Review Summary: 13 songs of creepy madness? Yes, please. What? No, I don't want to know about your fantastic street surgery deals.
A band's exact genre is often one of the most frequently debated details of the band itself. Genres let us classify music into a category; they help us relate to other people's music tastes and share our interests. However, every so often, a band comes along that, for the life of us, we cannot file into one particular genre; bands like Sigh, System of a Down, and others. Dog Fashion Disco
, brainchild of crazy music mastermind Todd Smith, is just one of these bands.
is a 13 song showcase of Smith's ability to convey both disgust and wonder; to deny us that ability to classify music. The number of styles of music that this album covers is mind-boggling; trying to identify all of them would be a waste of time. Suffice to say that the band makes songs that confuse the listener, but also provide some worthy head-banging material and keep the audience entertained. I feel I must add, however, that much of the entertainment derived from the lyrical content on this album lies in being able to laugh at sick humor: murder, suicide, and sometimes just sheer spontaneity. However, the album is not limited to just that.
The album does not half ass its dark mood. Indeed, the entire album is about crime; almost like a movie. The songs are sung in a variety of views - many are in first person - but of various characters, ranging from a new cop on the job, to a hardboiled dick conducting espionage on two lovers. However, we are not talking your average "Someone help me, that young hooligan took my purse" crime. The crimes in this album are almost exclusives murder or sex related - often both. However, the lyrics are much more interesting than your average Cannibal Corpse
song. They aren't just lists of horrible crimes, instead, they play out like a story, introducing you to the scene, the characters, all the while never missing a beat. However, as with most of Smith's material, the lyrics are to be taken lightly - not
The driving force behind this album is Smith's fantastic vocal range. Ranging from a optimistic, creepy falsetto, to a low death growl, Smith's vocals keep the album interesting, and most importantly, disturbing. However, he is not limited to just those two tunes, and uses a style reminiscent of Johnny Cash for the song Desert Grave
, which gives off a strange western feel as he sings about digging someone a grave that no one will find. He usually utilizes his high end vocals for singing about stuff that would otherwise be delivered in a somber mood, such as a corpse in a homicide case. In addition, he also uses spoken vocals to set a mood, such as in the song Private Eye
The production on this album is fantastic. Everything can be heard clearly, and if any tracks sound fuzzy, then that was the intended result, such as on Private Eye
. The guitars on this album, the work of Jason Stepp, although nothing particularly ingenious, keep the album chugging along. Stepp's riffs on this album are not terribly interesting, but they do keep the listener's attention and certainly hold the music together. This is not to say that there are no fun riffs on the album. The more metal inclined songs have fairly catchy riffs that are certainly enjoyable to head-bang along to, but altogether are mostly forgettable. The bass guitar, however, is heard clearly throughout the album, and to a degree, is more interesting than the actual guitar lines themselves, since many songs have the bass providing a kind of polka-like beat in the background to Smith's infectious vocals. The drums are heard clearly and are not overly powerful. The drummer, John Ensminger, is definitely very talented behind his set. He has some interesting lines, but more often than not just keeps the guitars in check and the tempo right. One thing about this album that makes it interesting is that, although many of the songs have a faster tempo, there are no blast beats. This, to me, is a relief, in this blast beat laden today. This album, however, relies on so much more than just the guitars and drums. Much of the audience's attention will be drawn to the various arrangements used on numerous songs, whether it be the strings arrangement on Mature Audiences Only
, the western tunes on Desert Grave
, or the pianos, which are abound throughout the album. They are more often that not used to keep a lighter tone on the darker songs, as well as adding a strange backup tone to the guitar lines.
I cannot honestly find much negative about this album. However, the guitar lines and riffs could definitely be more interesting, but in the context they are used, that isn't necessary. Overall, a superb album that, if you are into strange music that is metal oriented, should not be avoided.
Fantastic instrumental arrangements
Interesting, albeit morbid, lyrics
Vocals are interesting and varied throughout
Guitars are boring