Review Summary: An exciting journey through one of music's most bizarre sonic minds.
When I got into Mastodon about three and a half years ago, I read in their allmusic.com biography that drummer Brann Dailor and guitarist Bill Kelliher used to be in a band called Today is the Day. I quickly brushed that fact aside, because Today is the Day sounded like it was some crappy metalcore band that never got anywhere.
Fast forward to the present day. Lately, I've had a minor fixation with looking into the bands where some of my favorite musicians came from, or side-projects of those musicians. One day, I saw a topic about Today is the Day on a message board, describing them as some of the most evil, crushing music ever, and how great their album Temple of the Morning Star was. Having always remembered their name, and being a huge Mastodon fanboy, I decided that maybe I should check them out. Sadly, I found out that Dailor and Kelliher only played on one album: In the Eyes of God. So I checked it out, and here I am at my computer writing a review of one of metal's most difficult bands to define.
Steve Austin - Vocals/Guitar
Bill Kelliher - Bass (another surprise for me, as he is now an accomplished guitarist)
Brann Dailor - Drums
Much like how the name "Today is the Day" can lead you into thinking of this band as a wussified Warped Tour act, the beginning of this review might make you think that I'm just going to talk about the rhythm section that went on to form Mastodon. But, as anyone who knows about Today is the Day (and I'm sure most of you know more than I do about them) can guess, the number one guy is vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Steve Austin. Austin is the only constant member of the band since its inception in 1992, and as great as the henchmen he recruits are, they are just that: henchmen. Pawns that are in the band to execute Austin's grotesque and chaotic musical vision. Austin writes all the songs, plays all the guitars, and recorded the album in his own recording studio, fittingly named Austin Enterprises. The man is no slouch, and his hard work is evident in each of the album's 20 bursts of noise and technicality. Burst is the key word there. 11 of the album's tracks are under two minutes, and each one feels like a gunshot to the mind. Every song supports at least one immediately headbangable riff on top of the solid bass work of Kelliher and the lightning-quick, all-over-the-place drumming of Dailor (certainly a hint to his future playing).
The songs are all over-the-top too, from the (often indecipherable) lyrics, like in "Going to Hell," to the titles, such as "Bionic Cock" and "The Cold Harshness of Being Wrong Throughout Your Entire Life." But the musicianship and the raw production atmosphere of the album force you to take everything very seriously, all the way through the 8+ minute start-stop jam of "There Is No End." It's a shame that this incarnation of Today is the Day only recorded one album, although it did lead to one of my all-time favorite bands, but I am excited to hear a few more albums from Austin and whoever else he could get along with at the time of recording. For now, I'll just sit back and appreciate this overlooked gem.