Review Summary: This Is Disastercore
If there’s one thing that sets Down I Go apart from their contemporaries, it’s the tongue-in-cheek nature of their raucous brand of post-hardcore. Endeavoring to make an album about disasters is no easy feat, as one could easily either get too serious and come off as contrived or not do the subject justice by making ill-judged attempts at humor. Down I Go excel by making themselves quite clear in what they've set out to do through their brazen-faced flippancy. As vocalist Pete Fraser wheezes, squeals, coughs, vomits and spits his way through lyrics like “OH NO!! EVERYBODY’S DEAD” with hilariously fake despair it’s hard to mistake Disastercore as being serious.
But the line between amusing and terrifyingly serious is blurred as Down I Go juxtapose chaotic, twirling riffs and panic-stricken screams with bouncy, catchy guitar rhythms and lyrics about the danger of balloons . Album highlight “Stay At Home and Die” features a mock announcer who authoritatively asks us “Have you ever fancied quarantine"” and declares that there’s “An end to public gatherings, stay at home and die!” with a hint of malevolent glee. The song fades out over an anarchistic riff that repeats over and over as ambient noise ominously bubbles away in the background and an ominous whispered lyric of “Don’t go, outside”. In contrast, the next track “Bird Hips/Lizard Hips” focuses on the extinction of the dinosaurs and for some reason this means scat singing is in order, which really shouldn't work but does, and the song then seamlessly falls apart into an almost bro-down mosh section. It’s unexpected, brash, and ridiculous, but somehow it works.
The range of vocal styles on Disastercore is one of its most impressive features as Pete punctuates the sound between every shout with a pig squeal, sputters like a plague victim and gibbers like a madman. Not only that, but gang vocals are often used to full effect for sinister chanting and choir singing, giving a sense of majesty to the tragic proceedings. In fact, “Lament of the Mournful Sailors” is entirely composed of a repeating chant of “WAY OH,” though on this song it lacks any sort of atmospheric quality given the simplicity and repetitiveness of the lyrics.
My only problem with Disastercore is that ideas that could have been, and are, resigned for shorter sections in songs get painfully stretched out into whole song ideas. “Lament of the Mournful Sailors” is a nice interlude track, but it lacks any standout quality as the chanting comes off as self-indulgent and unnecessary especially when the technique is used on other tracks to a much greater effect. Down I Go are at their best when they’re erratic and all over the place, dissonant riffs slammed together with weird vocal styles and a dark sense of humour, true Disastercore.