Death Grips, Cyber-Magick-Terrorism, And Post-internet Accelerationism

On the same day in 2017, two important but apparently unrelated events happened.
Conceptual art group Death Grips released a mysterious recorded sound project titled Steroids, and the Manchester Arena bombing occurred immediately after an Ariana Grande concert. While both were significant in their own rights, a series of links between the two events has been uncovered that simultaneously questions the forces behind the bombing, and the artistic intentions of the group.
Due to the esoteric nature of these connections, some heavy contextualization is required:

In his Philology Master’s thesis: ‘Gender performances as a response to accelerationism – Self-destructive masculinity in the post-internet music of Death Grips‘, Ville Juhani Kenttä does an excellent job of defining the art of the group beyond the music. It has it’s own focus, but still perfectly explains how the nature of art, politics, terrorism and music are becoming increasingly intertwined in this all encompassing plane still simplistically referred to as the internet. Using a few key social theories, insight is offered into the hyperactive inter-connectivity of this network, and how Death Grips has somehow linked itself to the Manchester Arena bombing.
One is accelerationism, a range of ideas that propose rapid development or ‘pushing through’ of social processes in order to build and instigate even further change; forcing an existing system or hierarchy to breaking point in order to replace it with a new system.

This is a common idea used to break down the role of the internet in politics, in regards to the effect of online discourse on the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and Brexit referendum, cited as the first major events of accelerationist politics.
A strong factor is anonymous communities such as 4chan, that have developed a strong transgressive culture and ambiguous tone. The darkest parts of the mind are openly aired, with distinct communities formed around: hardcore pornography, murder footage and gore, intrusive thoughts ranging from suicide and murder to incest, and extreme bipartisan politics.
With intention vague, these communities envelope a core contradiction, people who ‘get it’ and people who don’t; continuously reacting within and against each other, compiling layers of meanings and distinctions. Communicating with memes that work as political dog whistles can mobilize groups that affect significant change, too rapid to track and too decentralized to stop. As an example, the ‘Hacker Group’ Anonymous originated exactly like this, a joke willed into existence for the Lulz, defined only by the target they were trying to incite a reaction from.
Until recently, Politics was mostly joke on the internet, perhaps with no community more committed than 4chan’s politics board /pol/.
Aside from Trump and Brexit, another turning point was the Christchurch mosque shooting. For apparent intents and purposes it was a /pol/ shitpost like any other, a post-ironic manifesto of racist jokes and memes, until the politically targeted murder of 51 people, live-streamed on Facebook.

For what /pol/ can do for politics, the music board /mu/ can do for music, and has done for Death Grips. This relationship falls under the category of ‘post-internet’.

Post-internet art is less of a style, and more of a blurring of the line between process and product, using internet unique technologies to feed back from audience to artist. In music, this is often characterized by experimental electronic production, diverse samples from high concept to pop culture, and performative identity, often in regards to gender. Examples include not only particular artists like Grimes, FKA Twigs or Frank Ocean, but labels like PC Music, and the aesthetic movements of micro-genres such as Vaporwave. Hip-hop mixtape culture is at its most post-internet on platforms like Soundcloud; combine this with a Punk ethos, Noise Rock, and Voodoo, and you get Death Grips.

“hyper-saturated music […] it can be abrasive, unnerving and at times chaotic or uncentered. The feel of it is very technological; as if the beats and textures are a direct audible translation of electronic pulses passing through a bunch of network cables all twisted and bundled together”
– Pieter Defraene, Exploring Post-Internet Music. A 101 on the net-aware movement

Members of the group (Stefan Burnett, lyrics/vocals, Zach Hill, production/drumming/lyrics, Andy Morin, production), are known to conceptualize the group as it’s own entity. Indeed, more people were originally involved, operating like a collective and using aliases. Their primary output has been sound and visuals, typical of a 2010s ‘band’, though their inception was conversations between Zach and Stefan as local art community members simply interested in creating together, well before conceiving sounds.
First gaining popularity/infamy through their mixtape Exmilitary, a cult following formed on /mu/. The board became a central base of operations, including their deep web ARG that revealed upcoming release information through a series of hidden and encrypted files, unlocked by communal puzzle-solving coordinated by /mu/.
One of the files included in the game was never unlocked, it’s contents still not publicly known.
They have now leaked much of their music on 4chan prior to ‘official’ release, and incorporated popular memes from the fanbase into the work, notably the track name Death Grips Is Online from 2018 album Year of The Snitch. Another common meme is to pre-face messages with: ‘Zach here, …’, facetiously pretending to misrepresent the group. This can joke can give Death Grips any voice or narrative you want, but only a few of these comments might be enough to start a persistent myth.
There is a clear divide between listeners; for newcomers, the music is perceived as a joke and interacted with as a meme, until you spend enough time with it to gain a deeper understanding and properly connect with it. Recently, with the group inactive for nearly four years, this reactionary side has gained an elitist tone of never having cared about Death Grips in the first place, with strong derision directed toward those who still do.

Before we get to Ariana Grande, some occult contextualisation:

Numerology is the practice of divining meaning through numbers, it is categorized as a pseudo-science similar to Astrology. Systems are derived by assigning numerical value to letters, and using synchronicities, meaning can be established through patterns. It has been used since antiquity, and is still prevalent in many belief structures. The most common alphanumeric system assigns a value of 1 to the letter A, adding one for each letter of the alphabet up to Z = 26.
Isopsephy and Gematria are the Greek and Hebrew methods of summing the numerical value of each letter in a word or phrase to use the total value as a symbol, and they give us probably the best known use of numerology in a belief system.
The number of the beast, 666, described in the Book of Revelation from the Christian New Testament as ‘the number that those who understand can count to show the name of the beast’.

Many will be aware of the numerological significance of 11, a common ‘angel number’. It is noted to present itself more often than feels likely, usually in times or dates. It is seen as a marker of synchronicity associated with good luck or protection.
It is also called a ‘master number’, alongside 22 and 33, some systems describe these as the most powerful numbers. In particular, 22 is the ‘Master builder’, that most effectively manifests events on the physical plane. This is in part due to the Hebrew alphabet containing 22 letters, so all between creation and eternity can be represented in just that number. For example: the values of the letters in ‘Babel’ add up to 22.

This branch of numerology, and the prevalence of the number 22 provides a synchronization between Steroids and the Manchester Arena Bombing at the Ariana Grande concert, through the following facts:

Steroids released:    5/22/17, length: 22:31
Bombing occurred: 5/22/17, at           22:31 BST.

The exact release time of Steroids is disputed, with some claims that it released 22 minutes prior to the bombing, however, social media announcements for it appear to have been made shortly after the explosion.
The bomber was Salman Ramadan Abedi, a 22 year old British citizen of Libyan descent (Libya = 22). He detonated an improvised explosive device in the foyer among the crowd, killing 22 victims and himself. In total, 22 people were arrested in connection with the attack.

The links between the two events go beyond the presence of 22. The lyrics in Steroids provide more clues. Apparent direct references to the bombing are obscured by a dark overtone of manifesting some force or control over listeners. The perspective seems to be more of the Death Grips entity itself, rather than any individual lyric writer in the group. The delivery and production of the messages condenses them down from repetitive mantras to nearly incomprehensible hexes:

This ghost town’s my compound, I’m a saboteur
Your town’s my smoke cloud, I stay at war
By night shift I don’t exist, chump, saddle up
A dust to dust motionless struck belly up
Birch wood emoji wrought with human branches
Your innocence save your hopes, I just throw the dice
And I’ve been like this for my whole fucking life
My whole fucking life’s your whole fucking life

I hardly need to mention ‘Your town’s my smoke cloud’.
There is also a tenuous link to the Celtic calendar, which follows the lunar cycle, some years taking 13 months to stay aligned with the Gregorian calendar. The first lunar cycle of the year is the Birch cycle, associated with new beginnings. Cyclic death and rebirth is an important MO for Death Grips and their movements. Stefan has a tattoo on his palm featuring an Ouroboros, the ancient life cycle symbol featuring a snake eating it’s own tail.

Ouroboros-simple.svg

Indeed, they waited exactly 13 months to the day to drop their next release, and their album Government Plates released 13 months, 13 days and 13 hours after it’s predecessor No Love Deep Web. Most of their releases correspond to 13, 22, a full moon or a combination of all three. Their initials D+G also add to 13.

This bitch still prayin’ to the sun
That bitch more ate up than my lunch
That bitch make me take my time
Makin’ for change, they gonna come

Worshipping the Sun is described as weaker and more ‘bitch-like’, than the moon worship that Death Grips practise.
The last line describes putting the will for change out there knowing that those ready to facilitate it will find the message.

Exit wounds and rabbit ears
Rabbit holes that last for years
Now can you see I have no fears?
Not havin’ cares, post-stratosphere

Exit wounds are the damage a projectile does after passing through the body, very characteristic of the shrapnel based IED used in the attack.
Ariana was promoting her album Dangerous Woman at the time, imagery for it (including the costume she wore during the performance) featured her wearing rabbit ears.
James Joyce famously described his book Ulysses as having ‘so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries’, is this a similar brag? I could fill a book on the topic of Death Grips, how many years deep is this rabbit hole?

Be weird if I could make it as a mesmerist
Have a tall list of clients to tamper with
Be a practicing confessional
Cultivator of masochists
Crave sanity? I’ll make you vegetables
Your family’ll thank me like pacifists

Mesmerism is an old psychology technique similar to hypnotism. This entire passage hypothesizes having the power to play off guilt and masochism to draw the insane and malleable. The last line is reminiscent of a fairly uncommon reaction to a murder prosecution, when family members offer forgiveness to the murderer of their loved ones, this happened with at least one victim of the bombing.

I’m before all your destinations, I’ll be on display
I’m fuckin’ on your schedule, explanation’s in delay
Pathway enchanted encounter, feed that hoe a chainsaw
Burned up at myself, back to the floor
Moment I do, my bustle was such a bore

‘Pathway enchanted encounter’ feels ominous in regards to the next line, which could describe the explosion itself, donated from a backpack worn by the bomber.

Timeless, but I admire
Improvised explosives
Glowed off, my darlins
Good labor, my harlot

What appears to be another direct reference to the bombing.

Doubtful, you stand in pride
Turnin’ me down so quiet
Silence guided by vision
Assailant inside the figure
Can’t hide from suspicion
War-waging prescription
Street life breaks you like religion

Esoteric forces acting through nearly contradictory states.

Hooded figure exploit your demons

Finally, exploiting demons is an effective way to draw power that will bring more than you bargained for.

These lyrics are just excerpts with what I found to be the most relevant passages.
The full lyrics are transcribed and likely contain mistakes, but are worth reading along with while you listen to gain a fuller sense of the project.

The final solid piece tying this together was from Twitter. In 2014, years after deleting their original account, they made another with the handle @bbpoltergiest.
For several years, the only account they followed was Ariana Grande.
The name gives us another numerology 22, as ‘bb’; a very common motif in the discography, ‘BB’ appears in several song titles and lyrics, particularly through their 2015 opus The Powers That B.
The word poltergeist (The Twitter name was deliberately misspelled), comes from German: Poltern, ‘to make sound’, and geist, meaning ghost or spirit. It describes a form of spirit responsible for physical disturbances and loud sounds, sometimes tending to haunt a particular person rather than a place. Indicated by the presence of another 22, this seems to suggest that the account represented a digital spirit haunting Ariana with loud sounds.

The theory so far is gathering toward Steroids as an internet-based numerological magick spell; designed to draw and direct influence ultimately resulting in the bombing.
Of course, this all could be logically deduced down to a coincidental prediction rather than a spell, maybe if not for the precedent Death Grips have set themselves. For a group so private in regards to their fame, and so internally motivated, you may be surprised at how often the occult is literally mentioned.

In this interview, Zach dives into a discussion of motivations that form the nucleus of the project, affirming the many angles of post-internet accelerationism that inform them. The entire interview is illuminating, and all too relevant to condense here. But on the topic of striving to terminate their major label deal in an attack of contrition inspired by the Control Deck technique in Magic: The Gathering, Zach had this to say:

“I’ve always been very interested in magic– more psychologically, like magical thinking.”

They had just released their debut album The Money Store on Epic records, to critical acclaim and the most mainstream popularity they would ever achieve.

Stefan is also well versed in the occult. Though extremely reticent, this is not only confirmed by Zach in the above interview, but by his lyrics and many tattoos. Baphomet, Lovecraft, Voodoo, Gnosticism, and code adorn his body, also with a bold ‘111’ across his torso, signifying Hebrew ‘666’. In his only recorded interview since Death Grips’ formation, he names Jimi Hendrix as an influence, who was also a strong believer in Numerology. In more recently unearthed footage from 2002, aside from Jimi Hendrix again, Sun Ra is also named, a devoted mystic of various schools, including cryptic linguistics and numerology.

The first indication of this conspiracy seems to be this Reddit post made not long after the attack:

SNtDCWu

It was made by a new account, which made at least one other conspiracy post linking to the 2018 Leicester explosion:

Untitled-1

The left, posted by the group on Instagram the same day as the explosion, and the aftermath on the right to note the similarities between the buildings. The account that made these posts (and several other similar comments referencing 22 in other threads) was deleted not long after. Maybe an associate of the group planting the seeds? In the above interview, Zach does mention a sense of group members he doesn’t even know about. He has previously created several ‘sleeper agent’ Twitter accounts that are either deleted or passed on once they are confirmed to be ‘official’; but how far down the rabbit hole do you really want to go?

The first cohesive theory of this Steroids conspiracy comes from Youtuber Ben Jamin, adding original research to the post above. If you want to go a little deeper into the magick side, this take might need a better format than Reddit to be fully cohesive, but digs into some fascinating ideas. This summary has also been posted to The Hidden Triads blog. Along with the Master’s thesis above, these all served as inspiration for this theory.

So with the evidence in mind, can you conceptually link Death Grips to the Manchester bombing, perhaps as an example of ‘post-internet terrorism’?
Notably, confidential information leaked to the public within hours of the attack. It was quickly discovered that it had been shared with U.S. security services, and within days police had to exclude the U.S. from further information. PM Theresa May was quoted to have to remind POTUS Donald Trump, that “intelligence that has been shared must be made secure.”, to which he responded by describing the leaks as “deeply troubling”. Officials later claimed “the breakdown of normal discipline at the White House and in the US security services” caused the leaks.
Dean Baquet, editor of the New York Times, stated: “We live in different press worlds”, in justification of his publishing leaks. UK counter terrorism police have since claimed the leaks were detrimental to the investigation.
All this is interesting to note the political landscape surrounding the attack, but barely enough to arouse interest. The motivations behind the attack appear to be standard issue, Military-industrial complex grade Islamic extremism. The bomber had family links to Libyan Islamic Militia, and was local to the Didsbury Mosque, also connected to individuals and organisations internationally condemned for terrorism.
In some way, Ariana Grande was a shared target between Death Grips and the bomber; but my interpretation is only as a symbol, or just a shared example.
It was not an anomaly in the way of the Christchurch Mosque shooting; if Trump’s winning campaign (MAGA = 22) was the first mainstream post-internet politics, then maybe the Christchurch shooting was the first true act of ‘post-internet terrorism’. The time scale between these two attacks may as well be an eon in the internet age, and so at a stretch, Death Grips’ influence might amount to a subtle ripple.
This is an implied, ‘post-internet conspiracy theory’, which we are all familiar with by now. How they all seem to relate to each other in a large anti Semitic network of child trafficking adrenochrome addicts, and crisis acting false flag psyop gangs; hiding the true nature of reality by media conglomerates. Controlled weather by NASA, and quantum experiments that have forked the multiverse into oscillating parallel realities with slightly different names and logos, and a harsher, pure white Sun.
Careful contemplation is required, otherwise the mere mention of Hebrew and Gematria will surround you with social conditioning coded into the mainstream media, programmed by the Kabbalah cult.
(Cabbalah = 22)
Terrible things happen on both sides of every war, but if you see the world as consisting of only two sides, and you’ve picked team Nazi, then you’re playing a lose-lose game. Accelerationism warns us to look past the ‘ironic’ side and tells us these movements might exist to break a status quo rather than set one. But anything can be a joke, well beyond any humour.

“I’m not into surface reality that much.”
Stefan for Pitchfork

Based on their art or public persona, would any member of the project intend for an event like the Manchester bombing? They may revel in the deadly, broken aspects of society; but it is a severe misrepresentation to suggest they would celebrate or intentionally contribute to an attack like this bombing. While magick is renowned for unintended effects, it is entirely dependent on belief, heavily modulated by intention.

I can’t help but think of a different politically motivated attack that was directly inspired by Death Grips. When Austin Clay smashed Donald Trump’s Hollywood walk of fame starwith a pickaxe:

“I put on some headphones; I was listening to Death Grips, which is some high-energy, ridiculous music. It gave me the energy I needed to tear through the star.”
Austin Clay for GQ

Music is vibration, a medium of energy for the universe to impart influence on the ego. Most fans will recognize the invigorating energy described above.
There is much pain and suffering in the world, and Death Grips’ ultimate virtue is to define the role of the self in spite of this existential suffering, their particular trajectory is exceptionally matched to any kind of identity found at home on the internet. Rather than blame the world around them, they have long given up on it, reckoning that the only force worth caring about is within. Dishing out blame is simply a karmic contradiction, an ultimately unproductive mode of interaction.

Another virtue is their creation of art that bears even consideration of these topics in interpretation, which is very important to maintain. But no amount of ‘schizpostulating’ or 22s will ever define or prove what level of influence Death Grips had on the Manchester Bombing; not out of patterns that come from your mind.

“We consider ourselves feminists, we fiercely support homosexuality, transparent world leadership, and the idea of embracing yourself as an individual in any shape or form. Acceleration is a mantra, we’re not a political band, we are freaks and outsiders. It was important to project that message and energy through the artwork of this album. This is free thinking and eternally open-ended music.”
– Death Grips

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