Review Summary: You can now clap, sing and scream along to the sound of a man beheading six wives.
I’ll tell you what - some people are just mean. Tyrant
proves that. Never before had I encountered Pol Pot or Idi Amin from a historical standpoint, and perhaps delving into Bush seems a dead trend by now, and yet after being introduced or re-introduced to the lot, I would have happily attacked them if they passed my way. Glory to Stalin The Great
chants the group mockingly after five minutes of the album has gone – and it may just make you want to punch someone, anyone – regardless of their evil statistics. Even if you aren’t familiar with what exactly Stalin or any of the others were all about, the anger still swells within every ounce of Tyrant
Because Down I Go makes music simply so haphazardly, it’s easy to assume a pattern of trial-and-error. This seems almost dormant when the moments are pushed up against one another – “Tomas de Torquemada” makes a sudden dash of orchestration fit in to its diabolical means. Throughout all the screaming, the band hush themselves down for unexpected seriousness. The pseudo-jazz guitar outro of “Idi Admin” proves again that Down I Go want to try out everything; it soothes the hyperactive nature of the song without taking away from its craziness. Even when Let us build/Ice palace
is bitterly recounted on Niyazov’s study, lead singer Pete sounds not far off of Richey James’s vocal efforts with Manic Street Preachers – not that you can hold this thought too long before the band are blisteringly upbeat again. Once you’ve got past the hubbub surrounding the album’s exaggerating variety, you can accept that Down I Go can take their post-hardcore influenced style and create an album that can ‘smash someone’s face in’ and hang their head in shame at the same time.
While the band constantly diversify their sound by putting their tempo down or changing their emotional tone, Tyrant
actually suffers less droll moments because of it. Where “King Leopold II” becomes pretty saney considering its similar roaring sound to its previous friends (in track listing, not timeline), it prevents its uselessness by sounding even less hopeful; an almost poppy tune oddly backing Follow orders/Not your fault/Brutal torture/without thought
. In every way, Tyrant
should fall flat for being so bombastic, lyrically plain and full of itself, yet its impossible to look away from the little nifty packages - the marching trumpeting that is screamed over with pace, the piano ballads that pop into a song before it explodes, or perhaps just the togetherness of Down I Go’s vocalized chants. With all this eccentricity, the band manage to act out all of their least favourite politicians, mimicking any action they wish to frown down.
In such, Tyrant
obviously tries to develop into a slice of progressive music, but ultimately all that is left of this is the little tinges. This actually is for the better - in the same way that As The Roots Undo
lets its unravelling theme build around the punk within it, Down I Go sweep their dictators in and out of favour and ultimately teach us a whole lot while still maintaining the right to pounce about lividly. It is only fitting that the hardcore/whatever outlet pack up their latest lesson with “Ivan The Terrible” – a track difficultly diverting our attention from its own intensity to plummet into melody and beautiful violin composition. With all this weird delicacy brewing inside of the sub-conscious, the simple concept-album that is Tyrant
technically has something for everyone – it just depends on how you like the blend.
Now really, is Hitler a b-side or something?