Dance Gavin Dance
Downtown Battle Mountain II


3.5
great

Review

by Connor Welsh USER (13 Reviews)
March 5th, 2011 | 650 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Further proof that a return to form is harder than it looks.

Everyone has artists which they never want to change: be them victims of nostalgia-laden comfort or pillars of figurative talent rising far and beyond that of their genre-mates, they exist. Dance Gavin Dance are one of mine. Ever since my early days on the “scene” or whatever you wish to call it, Dance Gavin Dance offered a unique approach to post-hardcore which was rarely imitated and even more infrequently actually lived up to. Surely, as times changed, so did Dance Gavin Dance’s sound, slowly but surely, and despite many changes that made Happiness a fantastic album, it still rang hollow for me. The drums were less aggressive, the vocals less crooning, the guitar...well, no, the guitar was still fine. But something was missing.

Cut to two years and a couple line-up changes later: Downtown Battle Mountain II is announced and I’m as happy as a pig in ***. Could this be the album which restore Dance Gavin Dance to the level which I had previously held them at so highly? Would our passionate flame be reunited and, with it, hope for future endeavors into the artsy, mathy, loopy post-hardcore which drew them to me in the first place?

Well. Sort of.

Downtown Battle Mountain II is a great album, filled with several high points that would not be out-of-place in the first Downtown Battle Mountain. What is also has are startling lows, which, among other post-hardcore acts would be accepted, or even expected, but for this Californian outfit, almost taboo. We might as well get it out on the table right now, a majority of these flaws (however slight they may seem) seem to be related to Jon Mess’ vocal duty. Furthermore, while on their own, they’re forgivable at worst, they add up to a much bigger crime.

While it doesn’t make or break the album, most songs on DBM II follow more-or-less the same pattern, or are at least made up of roughly the same parts. Kick it off with an intense, aggressive charge on all fronts–all the drums pounding, all the guitars squealing, the bass thumping along at a breakneck pace, iced with Jon Mess’ primal war-chanting. Then, as quickly as it started, it fades–or transforms, rather–into a more melodic downbeat, and Johnny Craig enters the picture, and oh, how we missed Johnny Craig. Craig says his piece (usually with lyrics that make little sense) and disappears, sometimes for the rest of the song, sometimes to return momentarily, but either way, he is spread few and far between Jon Mess’ raspy rants. The song continues in this sort of pattern until it ultimately reaches equilibrium and dies off, launching into the next song. On their own, each of the songs stand out and are special in their own way (not dissimilar to what my mom told me when I was growing up), however, lump them together and it gets hard to tell them apart from each other and, like it or not, you notice more than usual that Will Swan might have been lacking in creativity when he wrote a majority of the riffs for the album.

Speaking of Will Swan, what exactly is he up to–and how about members of the band that don’t sing, you might ask. Well, this is where the album really shines, ladies and gentlemen. For, ultimately, the vocals as far as both Craig and Mess are concerned fall short, the instruments shine. The drums, punchy, raw and visceral are almost never boring, and walk the narrow line between over-busy and boring perfectly. The bass follows suit, shining when it needs to, and playing a support role when it should, popping out every now-and-again to say “whats up?!” but then fading back into the background seamlessly. The guitars, while they do seem repetitive are incredible nonetheless. Tracks like Priviously Poncheesied and Purple Reign showcase them perfectly, reminding us that Will Swan is certainly no one-trick pony, and that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

So while it might not have been the triumphant return to form that many Dance Gavin Dance fans (including myself) were looking for, it’s still a solid, engaging, catchy and technically impressive post-hardcore release, even if it’s hard and a little overbearing to get through in one listen, and even if you find yourself only returning to the same two or three tracks to get your fix.



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user ratings (888)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Jacob R. STAFF (4.1)
    "You've got that ostrich beak that's lowering your skill in sneak.” - Jon Mess, 2011...

    Charlie (4.5)
    Crass, upbeat, energetic and flat-out weird; these are all but a few adjectives that could...

    ZackeryDaley (5)
    The return of both original vocalists, Jon Mess and Jonny Craig, ignited Dance Gavin Dance...

    Travio (4)
    This is my Review of Downtown Battle Mountain II. This album reunites some of the most po...

  • Mobious1 (4)
    No Macbooks, just music....

    kevin234 (4)
    proving they are one of the best...

    David Driver (3)
    A return of original talent? Absolutely. A return to form? Not exactly....

    idk (3.5)
    We REALLY Need to Learn Some New Tricks Pt. 4 3/7...

  • Jared (3.5)
    Let Johnny in....


Comments:Add a Comment 
xxKillWithASmile
March 5th 2011


240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hey look, another 3.5 review for the album! Might not really be needed, but I wanted to submit it before I went back to college, 'cause the second I get back there, I'mma forget all about this thing. As always, feedback is welcome!

xxKillWithASmile
March 5th 2011


240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, wait, what? This did not happen like three minutes ago...
Haha

HenchmanOfSanta
March 5th 2011


1865 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review but yeah, what the hell happened to the layout?

Also this being as Mess-dominated as you make it sound makes me not particularly want to listen to it. Is this streaming somewhere? Because it's not out yet.

iwubmoosik
March 5th 2011


386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Their Record label leaked it and put it all on their youtube

CelestialDust
March 5th 2011


3155 Comments


well that's just not nice counterfeit, why you gotta go breaking pages like that

Counterfeit
March 5th 2011


17819 Comments


DDICK

xxKillWithASmile
March 5th 2011


240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, there is all sorts of layout jank. But it's streaming on YouTube, and it's good and all, I just can't get as into it as their other releases 'cause it's so Mess-heavy. Makes me kind of miss the Death Star days when Mess was still there, but he wasn't as concentrated.

SHAKEandBAKE
March 5th 2011


1310 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album grows on you.

xxKillWithASmile
March 5th 2011


240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I know. It's oscillating between a 4 and a 3.5 but I thought the review read more like a 3.5, however, it's liable to change.

HenchmanOfSanta
March 5th 2011


1865 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

To be fair to Mess he sounds better on the songs I have heard than he did on the s/t. I'll probably check out in the next week but I'll be more focused on Raekwon and some of the other shit coming out this month.

gabethepiratesquid
March 5th 2011


4521 Comments


Counterfeit you are such a dick

xxKillWithASmile
March 5th 2011


240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, he does sound better, but there's just...so much of him. Also yeah, dick move Counterfeit.

DeathByDaydream
March 5th 2011


546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wow fuck whoever did that shit

xxKillWithASmile
March 5th 2011


240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah. It's not my fault! I promise! Haha

witchxrapist
March 5th 2011


11034 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

lmao counterfeit

North0House2
March 5th 2011


5856 Comments


For some reason the screwed format hurts my eyes.

Digging: This Will Destroy You - Another Language

xxKillWithASmile
March 5th 2011


240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It makes it damn hard to look at. And it isn't my best review either

xxKillWithASmile
March 5th 2011


240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Aaand it's fixed

ohfoxxxycole
March 6th 2011


4353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i love mess so much on here, he makes this CD

pmmets07
March 6th 2011


5875 Comments


mess is the best part of dgd



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