Review Summary: Good vs. evil, Right vs. wrong... its a constant battle for some, it is for these guys.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
It’s amazing what you’d find when you look back through the history of Roadrunner Records and all the bands they have signed over the years that didn’t quite make it for one reason or another, some suffered from the usual lack of originality and others came at a time that did not work out for them due to their music being either too heavy or forward thinking for that period. Downthesun falls under the latter after releasing their only album to date with hardly any promotional effort from their label or many tours from the band themselves to support the release which eventually got pushed further into obscurity.
Their eponymous debut starts with lead single ‘Medicated’ which is a strange opener for an album but still does the job well in its own way, very slow start with a steady build up which leads to an odd but cool structured parts that’s heavily divides the song into pieces which all in all wasn’t really the one to pick for a single, certainly still remains an intriguing track. The most interesting aspect of the album is that each song has its own identity if you will, each sound nothing alike but somehow still maintain a sense of unity across the album from start to finish. The band consists of two vocalists who have distinctive styles that compliment each other on many occasions throughout, one perfect example would be on ‘pitiful’ in which they have a duel while trying out different techniques furthermore trying to out do each other.
The sound of the album is superbly produced by GGGarth Richardson (Mudvayne, spineshank) and seems to have calibrated all the instruments to achieve excellent clarity, the most notable instrument is the bass which makes its presence well known on most of the songs and even used as an intro to few of them.
‘Pure American filth’ continues the crazy train of with its down-tuned guitars and pummeling drums by starting off with a blast beat signaling what is the heaviest track on the album but eventually slows down half way to a mid pace and then strangely heads to an end that consists of disturbing mixture of growls and screams of profanities from both vocalists.
What sets Downthesun apart from most of their peers are the clever use of electronics to give each song an atmospheric feel, similar to Chimaira’s technique but a little more obvious, it seems to be well thought through and strategically placed rather then having random appearances. There is an excellent light/shade effect in terms of melodic and heaviness, ‘Listen’ can almost be described as a ballad which starts with a simple bass line along with an even more simpler notes from the guitars that lead to sullen clean vocals in most parts only for the chorus to be sung cleanly by one member and screamed at the same time by the other giving it a dynamic effect. By the time that’s finished, ‘Jars’ starts straight away with an intro riff that wouldn’t be out of place in Korn’s debut.
The highlight of the album is definitely ‘Scapegoat’; another heavy industrial-tinged song which this time round maintains its heaviness constantly and throughout, it has a chorus that at first sounds like a pre-chorus but in the end gives way to a long punishing outro that only Fear Factory could be proud of. The lyrics and theme are one that not typical from a band of that period in time, no “woe is me” type, subjects varies from exploring the sickness from within, good vs. evil and a fascination with serial killers, particularly highlighted on ‘Lucas Toole’.
Closing track ‘Revelations’ reveals itself to be extremely dark and broody with again, random human noises almost reminiscent of Slipknot’s ‘Iowa’ song, further displaying the unstable minds of this band.
It’s safe to say that they were one of the few to not just get on the bandwagon and rehash what has been done before them giving the album a new interesting perspective that 8 years later still stands the test of time unlike so many albums of the last decade, it would be definitely interesting to know as to where their state of mind is at the moment after such a long gap between this and what’s to come but its definitely a good foundation to pick up the pieces from.
Highlights: Scapegoat, We all die, Pitiful