A Life Once Lost
LabelBlack Market Activities
Tracklist1. Vicki Mayhem
2. Yippie-Kay-Yay MOTHER!@#$%^
3. Sammy Jankis
4. The Lost & Damned
5. Passenger 57
6. There's A Time And A Place For Everything
8. Suicide's Best Friend
9. Hour Of The Time
10. The Union
11. A Trail Of Tears
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I was sitting in the dentist's chair today getting a filling, and as they drilled into one of my molars to make the fit as close as possible, all I could think about was The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza. The sound of the tiny drill was laughably more pleasant than some of the noises conjured up on this album, and the dentist's drill would not be out of place if it were featured on the disc. They've always been an odd band, from the name, the music, everything. They've always embodied chaos, that's for sure, but each album is a different expression in chaos, and Danza III is no different. Over the past few weeks of listening to this album, the one most consistent descriptor I keep returning to is “inhuman”. Now, don't get me wrong: inhuman is a good word in this case. I'm obviously a big fan of the band, but I just had to get that all off of my chest. This is an experiment in torture, a plane crash, and a lobotomy fused together in audio form.
The arrival of the eight string guitar has been pretty slow in metal outside of groups like Meshuggah and After the Burial. Let's face it, they're pretty expensive, and they're just now receiving proper attention from the guitar makers themselves, making their current explosion none too surprising. With groups like Whitechapel and Animals As Leaders bringing their use to the masses in recent releases, it was only a matter of time before groups like TTDTE and Ion Dissonance got a hold of them, using them to increase their sonic palette, and not just for the added heaviness during breakdowns. While this group in particular has always played a headache-inducing brand of metal, the addition of the rumbling eighth string just adds another factor of destruction. I won't continue with my typical song by song description of this album because I honestly can't think of words to describe it past what I already have said, but I will point out some of the more notable moments.
“Vicki Mayhem” is the attention-grabbing opener that sets the standard for the rest of the album. It's groovy, has a sludgy, warped sounding low-end, more beeps and bloops than the first Star Wars film, and rivals a Meshuggah song in atmospheric qualities. “Yippie-Kay-Yay MOTHER!@#$%^” picks up where the former track trails off, upping the ante and rivaling the newfound low-end with the shrieks and screeches I mentioned in the opening to this piece. The song is set up with a bastardized groove that winds between both bowel-shaking lows and mind-numbing highs, as most of the album ends up doing, and the eerie atmosphere from “Mayhem” soldiers on behind them. Josh Travis walks the line between absolute garbage and calculated chaos with his guitar and bass lines, acting as an extension of Mike Bradley's drumkit at points, and providing an otherworldly backdrop for Jesse Freeland's commanding and expertly planned vocal performance. The syncopated hi-hat / string noise groove in “Sammy Jankis” is an example of the breathing room that is necessary in between the bouts of insanity that each new riff produces and just what kind of break the band must pace themselves with before losing their own sanity. It's no wonder that these more subdued parts are common at least once in a song, seeing as how Travis' hands must be on fire after constantly scaling the 25 inches between the two ends of his guitar neck.
The intro to “There's a Time and a Place For Everything” bends the line between guitar and bass, as it is honestly hard to tell what instrument is playing which part. The distortion-less mystery instrument makes a return in the middle of the song, just in time to call for a skull-crushingly heavy return to groove. Each song from here on out just elaborates on more ways to manipulate the seemingly endless aural possibilities that Danza has cooked up this time around. “Suicide's Best Friend” uses bends and harmonics that could probably most closely be described as “squiggles,” while “Hour of the Time” takes a polyrhythmic journey into the subterranean, all while exploring different arenas for “simply” pedaled notes to be displayed in between. The final three songs, especially “12-21-12,” all continue similar themes of mindfuck, which ends up being around 20 minutes of uncut Danza turmoil itself.
I've exercised everything I've learned in my 12 years of school to try and accurately describe this album to you, but ultimately, it's up to you to try and dissect this auditory monster. I realize that Bill Lohr just gave letlive's Fake History a five star rating and that it may seem like I'm trying my hardest to justify what I'm giving this album, but it wasn't until I actually sat down to write this that all of the crazy antics that the band pulls off hit me. Like I said in the beginning, Danza has always been the type of band to defy standards and try to be out there, but with Danza III they've secured a spot in my mind as the band who sets the standard for the defiance of such. I wouldn't say that it's a perfect album, but the reason it gets a five from me is because no other band has yet to attempt something so ridiculous and pull it off with this kind of finesse aside from Ion Dissonance on their 2005 release Solace. I'd love to see any other self-professed “mathcore” band try and tackle either of these metal giants, because it would end up being an embarrassing debacle that wouldn't go over too well.