Review Summary: Grab your bottle of Jack Daniel's, turn up the bass on your speakers, and let rip one of the most explosive, groove-inducing metal releases of this year.
The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza (TTDTE for short) play a modern, technical style of hardcore metal in the vein of early Meshuggah and Pantera. While their earlier releases veered more towards the chaotic, TTDTE find themselves embracing their southern Murfreesboro, Tennessee roots for their 3rd full length release.
Key factors include the massive change-up in lineup, with vocalist Jessie Freeland being the sole original member. Still being publicized as a three piece (guitarist Josh Travis handles both studio guitar and bass performances. Live performances have included an additional 4th member for bass duties.), the essence of that which is the trademark TTDTE sound is still surprisingly very much present.
Where Josh differs most from previous lead guitarist Layne Meylain is in his keen sense of groove and chord composition. Long time fans may find the new material lacking in the off-kilter sense that Layne brought to his guitar playing, but most new listeners will be amazed at the sheer ferocity and outright catchiness of this album. Those who cut their metal teeth on Destroy Erase Improve-era Meshuggah after being weened off of early-90s Pantera will feel right at home.
Vocalist Jessie Freeland does of admirable job of delivering his socially and musically critical lyrics in a straightfoward, non-trendy fashion. In fact, I was taken aback at how little VOX enhancement and overdubbing is done on this album. Clear and seemingly a direct mic recording, his voice cuts through the chaos in a refreshingly direct way.
Nitpicking criticisms are mainly due to how closely the band, for the most part, stick to their newly found template of chaotic epicness. Drummer Mike Bradley, while adequate, only on ocassion showcases any sort of flourishes that would elevate his drumming beyond the functional. Guitarist Josh Travis, while very adept at bringing out every nuance in how an 8-string electric guitar can (and should) be played, will on occasion become slightly repetitive in his choice of standard scale and open string harmonic sweeping.
Much confusion will be on how this band will be able to reproduce it's sound live. Quite similar to Nordic headbangers Messhugah, TTDTE's downtuned 8-string guitar, played along with a heavily distorted 6-string bass, create an almost singular sound on the album recording.
Many, including myself, will miss former bassist Mike Butler's insane form of freehand slap bass, but current TTDTE touring bassist does an adequate job of "rhythm guitarist" due to the extended range of his 6-string bass, allowing lead Josh Travis to handle all tech flourishes heard on said album.
Special mentioned must also be made on behalf of bands like TTDTE embracing their cultural roots and infusing their music with it for the better. These aren't some skinny, white kids from Nowhere, USA pretending to be pissed off. These are some down home southern boys who appreciate a good time and an even better groove.
Along with newcomers Upon a Burning Body, The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza are bringing a sense of fun and vitality that has been sorely lacking in a scene the emphasizes grisly posturing over musical creativity and innovation.
Grab your bottle of Jack Daniel's, turn up the bass on your speakers, and let rip one of the most explosive, groove-inducing metal releases of this year.