Death Grips are supposed to be dead. Not just because they broke up, and not because they said The Powers That B would be their final album, but because of “On GP”. That was their suicide note; their first act of poignant awareness as an artistic entity and one that maintains they have their limits. And as the final real song off of Jenny Death, they went quiet again. But here we are, almost a year later in the same place speculating whether or not they lost their minds again. And with “Hot Head”, it’s tough to say whether or not they have.
With this latest single, it’s becoming increasingly transparent where each member fits into the dissonance and uncertainty. Zach Hill is unmistakably berserk in his transferral drum patterns, skipping between V-Drums and a more traditional kit as he hammers into insanity. Andy Morin surges between a revving guitar and a spiral staircase of a synth. And Stefan Burnett, the cryptic vocal epicenter, layers his hellish screams into soul-piercing phrases. These elements and their prospective members have always been present, and Death Grips have never been shy in combining these portions to create their hybrid of sound and melody. But with “Hot Head”, each piece is more forceful in presence, eschewing any traditional idea of linking up together. The punchy chants of Burnett are interrupted by Morin’s triggered bursts of effects, and vice versa. The more each piece of their music suspends the rest, the further Death Grips fall down the proverbial rabbit hole of noise and hip hop. But with the final spur of a synth, it’s clear there’s something on the horizon. But with Death Grips, that usually means more uncertainty.
– T. Pennington