Sound — 8
I happened to stumble upon this band by accident, to be honest. I was just looking around Matt Traynor's (drummer of Blessthefall) Myspace and suddenly the words "By Now You Know, That I Am Cold!!!" came blaring out of my speakers. My eyes shot over to his MySpace Music Player and read the words "And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman" aloud to myself. I looked at the band name and chuckled to myself quietly, finding DanceGavinDance to be a little humorous. I finished listening to the rest of the song, finding little spots in it that just caught me off guard. Overall, the song blew me away and is still my favorite to this very day. I immediately ran out and bought the album, entitled "Downtown Battle Mountain". From then on, I discovered that this six-piece Post-Hardcore outfit from Sacramento was something big. What truly makes this album a masterpiece, is how everything flows together in such a chaotic yet beautiful way, it's something you've never heard before.Sean O' Sullivan and Will Swan, the bands guitarists give DGD one of their trademark sounds: They both play lead. Not to say one of them wont take a slightly more rhythmic and basic approach, but most of the album is them playing wonderfully melodic and technical licks. To the untrained ear, it it would like an album full of guitar solos. Songs like "Lemon Meringue Tie", may come off as lounge music in the beginning, while songs such as "The Backwards Pumpkin Song" have obvious technical "shredding" involved. The guitar work reminded me a bit of Circa Survive, or that of Fall Of Troy. These two are also no strangers to using various guitar effects to give off spacey, and odd feelings during the songs. The bass does exactly what it needs to do: Anchor everything. Eric Lodge does a fantastic job of keeping a solid groove while still maintaining his sound within the band. This is never more apparent than in "Lemon Meringue Tie", where he takes the intro of the song by storm. Another trademark sound of the band is due to Matt Mingus's drumming ability. May I say, its impressive. This man is without a doubt one of the top Post-Hardcore drummers out there. He's also one of the few that still uses a five-piece kit in the scene. He utilizes his entire kit with ease, unleashing raw power and amazing technicality. He throws in off-time fills and beats, at times surprising the listener with his double bass skill. During the build up of "And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman", Matt slowly builds from 8th notes, to 16th notes, and finally to 32nd notes with his double bass pedal with fluid motion and precision. It seems that random blasts of double bass is something he likes to do quite often throughout the album. This band has real talent, and it shows. Not only through the album, but the fact that they are damn perfect during live shows.
Lyrics — 10
Once again, a signature of Dance Gavin Dance's unique sound is the vocals and lyrics. The band has two lead vocalists: Johnny Craig(Clean Vocals) and Jon Mess(Harsh Vocals). But I'll get to that in a bit. Most of the lyrics don't make much sense, that is until you either look much deeper into them, or interpret them in a way that makes sense to you. I honestly don't know what they try to convey in them for sure, but I believe I have an idea. In a sense, Jon Mess( the bands primary lyricist I believe) is a mad scientist when it comes to lyrics. In "Antlion", he opens the song by screaming "There's a bomb in my face/ decorated in white lace" Or in "Strawberry Andre" he shouts "Slit her throat on the frying pan/You caught cold and forgot the plan" these off-the-wall lyrics truly compliment the bands style and help them what they are. You have chaotic moments in the music blending with spastic lyrics, or beautiful lyrics melding with soft parts, it's too good to be true. Other times the lyrics are a bit more obvious, like when Johnny sings "I don't know why/I don't know why I fight for you this way" during the rousing chorus of "Lemon Meringue Tie" behind a solid, chugging guitar part. As I mentioned before, the band features TWO singers. This makes for some very interesting parts in songs. What makes it that much better, is that both of these vocalists happen to be simply amazing. Jon Mess has these harsh, piercing and almost tortured screams. It seems that he's yelling at the listener rather than screaming to a song. His scream is unlike that of any I have ever heard. I'm sure alot of people will say that his screams are terrible, and he sounds like he's doing it wrong. However, it just makes him that much more unique and respectable among the other screamers. To be honest, I find his voice to be more emotional than that of his singing counter-part. That of course, would be none other than Johnny Craig's voice. Let me just get this right off the bat: This man has one of the greatest voices I have ever heard in my life, regardless of genre. His voice is soothing, yet powerful. It truly is amazing to hear. When he and Jon take part in call-and-answer vocal spots, it's just something so fresh to hear these complete opposites coincide with one another to make beautiful music. Not only do they sound perfect on the album, but they are simply god-like live! The ending of "And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman" (Yes, I know I mention this song alot), takes the best of both singers to their limits. Jon Mess is heard barking "People they change/And I would still be ashamed/To let the weight of the world/Rest on your shoulders/I'll fight until this war is over" As Johnny Craig, oozing with passion yelps out "I'll beg you when you know/I'll beg you when it shows/We'll go for it/I don't believe the lies/I don't believe the lies/I'll die for you" to create one of the best vocal performances I have heard throughout the genre. The point is, the vocals and lyrical content on this album, and ace.
Overall Impression — 10
Before hearing "Downtown Battle Mountain", I found myself into alot of metalcore/screamo kind of music, not to say any of that was bad, I still love it to this day. However, "Downtown Battle Mountain" changed my outlook on music, I found that you can be completely different, and push the boundaries to do what you love. Like I said, the best part about this album and band, is that there is nothing else like it. Nothing. As for the overall sound of the album, there truly is not a dull song on it. Sure, the song titles are a bit odd, but its just another of the bands many charms. The best is hands down "And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman", the albums opener. (After the intro "Untitled" respectively) It pretty much brings together everything that makes this band what it is, blaring drums, pounding bass, technical guitar work, and larger-than-life vocals. This song will hit you like a semi-trick...in a good way. It's followed by another handful of strong songs, including "It's Safe To Say You Dig The Backseat", "Strawberry Andre", and "Lemon Meringue Tie". "It's Safe To Say You Dig The Backseat" is one of those songs that really drags you into whatever emotion the band is trying to get across, there's something about it that just pulls you down further and further. You almost feel sad once the song comes to an end, after enduring the heartache of what is obviously a one night stand. "The Backwards Pumpkin Song" and "Antlion" are both solid songs that keep the album moving on in a steady fashion. "Turn Off The Lights I'm Watching Back To The Future" is the only song on the album that seems just a bit slow, it doesn't seem to go anywhere, but is a decent song none the less. "Open Your Eyes And Look North" is a fantastic song to pick you up from the empty space "Turn Off The Lights..." leaves you on. Next, is "Surprise! I'm From Cuba, Everyone Has One Brain" is the perfect song to end with, the outro slowly fading out as the two vocalists trade off, giving everything they have in the final moments of the song. However, the very last song, entitled "12 Hours, 630 Miles" is where everything makes sense. For a minute and twenty four seconds, Johnny Craig pours out his emotions behind suttle acoustic guitars, and soft drums. There really isn't anything on the album that I don't absolutely love. I suppose if I could change one thing, I would make it longer. It's not that it was short, I just wish it would never end, haha. Anyways, I recommend you buy this. I mean literally, BUY IT! Don't download it, BUY IT WITH MONEY! This album is very deserving of it. Once you have this album, take care of it with your life, hopefully it will mean as much to you as it does to me. My copy; signed bu the band mind you, still sits on my shelf in perfect condition. If I may, I would like to close this review with a tiny personal story. This album has something in it, I don't know what, but it has something. Something larger-than-life, something almost magical. I've been going through a pretty hard time in my life, and I wouldn't hesitate for a split second to say that this album has helped me get through it. There is not a day that go's by that I don't listen to it, it truly is that special. Thank You, and Have A Great Day! -Axle Sterling