Dance Gavin Dance, 2020
The time has come for me to write my first review for my favorite band, Dance Gavin Dance. As someone who has listened to the band religiously for over a decade, I have seen them flourish with a consistent line-up for the past six years. The combination of soaring clean vocalist Tilian Pearson, innovative guitarist Will Swan, chaotic unclean vocalist Jon Mess, groovy bassist Tim Feerick, and grounded drummer Matt Mingus have persisted and created four cohesive albums together that are devoid of filler and full of memorable moments. My expectations are grand for the band’s ninth album, Afterburner, so let’s dive right in!
“Prisoner” was the album-announcement single and kicks off Afterburner. From the first measure, a complex dual-guitar riff immediately throws off first-time listeners. It’s still hard to wrap my head around the progression of these triplets, but that’s what we get with Swancore staple Sergio Medina working with Will on this song. Exploring the topics of religion and its subsequent confinement, the profoundness of the lyricism takes hold from the get-go. My favorite part of this song is the first post-chorus where all we can hear is yet another one of Will’s patented funk riffs that’s hard not to jive to. I distinctly remember being in my workplace when it dropped early in the morning February 22nd, dancing along at my standing desk and feeling on top of the world with this groovy piece.
For the last 20 years, there have been a few constants in the world. Death, taxes, and ICP’s Gathering Of The Juggalos happening on an annual basis. The festival brings together some surprisingly notable musical talent (seriously, everyone from Attila to God Forbid to Esham has played in years past), and this year’s lineup was being prepared. That all changed when the coronavirus attacked, and as it’s affected the music and entertainment industries and more or less shut down live events, the Gathering is unfortunately no exception. However, the Juggalos are clearly more woke than some state governments.
When I reviewed Azusa’s new album earlier this month, which featured Extol’s guitarist/drummer, I wondered what happened to the rest of the notable band. That answer came about when I discovered Mantric, made up of Extol’s core members, Tor, Ole, and John, who also previously performed as Lengsel. To dive into a band that has had 20+ years of experience in different outlets is an exciting prospect, and I will do just that for Mantric’s new album, False Negative.
“Polyanna” starts off False Negative with euphoric synth leading the melody and a vocal performance that exudes intensity with shrill high notes adding depth to the lyrics. “Itching Soul” follows, giving off a Filter/A Perfect Circle vibe with chilling guitars and the bass standing out. The bridge has a nice guitar run and some spoken vocals with a dismissive tone to bring a sense of finality to the lyrical tone.