Review Summary: "Everyone gets tired of creative torture."
The Callous Daoboys are a 7 piece mathcore band hailing from Atlanta. One of these seven members is Amber, their violinist. In the entire runtime of "Die On Mars," Amber plays a role for maybe two minutes. Outside of that, not a single note of her instrument is audible. She is Slipknot's Pinhead, if Pinhead was a female, ditched the mask, and dropped his sampling fetish to pick up his long lost hobby of playing the fiddle instead. Yet despite her extreme lack of contribution to the group's sound, she remains in the lineup, thrashing and writhing around in music videos and onstage, strumming her strings to her heart's content with all her other fellow bandmates.
Let this stand as the perfect preface for this review. Because everything that The Daoboys do is pointless. There is no rhyme or reason for many (if not all) of the artistic choices they decided to make on "Die On Mars," and these choices culminate into a batch of tracks that seem to serve no purpose outside of "We want to make your head spin." There's plenty of moments on this album where I was left baffled, chuckling and scratching my head, thinking, "Why? Just why?" But just because things can be ridiculously stupid, doesn't mean that those same things aren't without their merits. We live in a world where people spend millions of dollars on paintings composed of a single square of color. And when I bought this album after I finished listening through it for the first time, I felt like one of those idiots. But I didn't care, most likely the same way that TCD didn't care when they released this unshackled beast into the void of Bandcamp. Because it was so dumb and so unnecessary, that it was enjoyable... For the most part.
The minute you press play on this record and the intro of "Flip-Flops At A Funeral" rings out, the influences are immediately recognizable; a little Fear Before here, a little Every Time I Die there, and a lot of Dillinger Escape Plan everywhere. It's a metalcore record, pulling from some of metalcore's biggest acts, as is expected from a band of this caliber so early into their existence. And that's fine. Originality is not the aim of this record, and it doesn't have to be. Because what "Die On Mars" lacks in creativity is made up for with how aggressively The Daoboys play this style of music. Sure, it's no "Calculating Infinity," by any stretch of the imagination. Despite having a decent amount of time signature flips, the album is too over-reliant on breakdowns and southern rock riffs to be as chaotic as their legendary predecessors (though they do successfully manage to be chaotic in their own right, which I will get to later.) But frontman Carson Pace sure does an excellent Greg Puciato impersonation, belting out angsty, manic, even somewhat tortured screams all over the album's run time, reminiscent of "Operation Paralysis" era DEP. And these throat shredding yells, combined with the thick, punchy drums and the raw guitars that accompany them in rhythm, make for some catchy, belligerent verses that are nearly impossible to not bang your head along to.
But what's even more jarring than this, are the parts that aren't even pummeling; the sung and spoken word passages, a few of which are coupled with some of the most out-of-left-field instrumentals the band could've possibly chosen to write. Take the aforementioned intro track for example. After a full minute of ear-piercing shrieks, feedback and hammering drum beats, the band suddenly swerves off into a section of clichéd, cartoony elevator music, with Carson Pace sounding nearly identical to Patrick Stump as he half yelps, half croons his way over this sudden detour, before the track dives back into its brutal mathcore sound. It was so unexpected that I was laughing hysterically for at least a full minute on my first listen, and even now it still makes me crack a smile. Another perfect example of this is on the track "The Absolute Barnstormer," where the band decides to randomly give us what i could only imagine is the shortest skit in music history; a 10 second long jazz intermission where Carson and an unnamed woman appear to be on a dinner date neither of them want to have. It's these tongue-in-cheek moments that make you question the band's sanity; they're clearly taking inspiration from the MySpace era of mathcore, but these sudden transitions have never been done in such an odd and bipolar manner before, at least not to my knowledge.
The lyrical content of "Die On Mars" is 90 percent nonsense and 10 percent slightly coherent rambling and one-liners. If Dance Gavin Dance had a single iota of clarity and humor in their lyrical writing process, this would be the end result. It's not entirely alphabet soup, even though a good portion of it is, but you can't help but feel as though the vocalist is trying to get some sort of point across at times, while also simultaneously thinking that there's no way the Daoboys give enough of a s**t to put their heart into a message, given everything you're hearing. On the song "Fake Dinosaur Bones," Carson screams "The Devil put you here to make me lose my faith, I pray for the disaster to incinerate." It makes you wonder who he's talking about, or why this person made him feel so harshly towards the world... until you realize that in the intro verse he said that everyone "plays house on the same moon." It's like trying to get straight answers out of someone in a straight-jacket; you'll never know for certain, and all you can do is speculate. Though I will give it to Carson, once again, for making me giggle like a schoolgirl through his lyrical content, most specifically on the track "Contrail Crucifixion," where he basically tells everyone that his band sucks, and that they need people to tell other people about their band so they can tour before they break up in a few years. He says lines like this in such a pseudo-poetic way, where it's difficult to tell if he's being comedic, dead serious, or somewhere in between.
"Die On Mars" is a purposely care free project, and as a result of this, it does come with a few drawbacks. As explained earlier, the band does rely pretty generously on chugged guitars, panic chords and breakdowns to carry the weight of a lot of the songs found here. The project gets somewhat tedious the longer it goes on, and towards the end you find yourself yearning for more of those amusing, playful avant garde and spoken word bits as opposed to the real meat and potatoes of the album. The one-minute interlude and outro cut on the record are my biggest gripes. They give nothing in the way of content or amusement, as they're just dragged out ambient pieces that seem out of place, even on a record as wild as this one.
There is not a single rhyme or reason to the things that The Daoboys do. And that's the beauty behind their explosive madness. This record is over a half an hour of unnecessary sensory overload, a court jester grabbing you by the throat and shaking you, laughing and yelling maniacally as he dances in circles, making you laugh and yell in the process. Going forward, I'd like to see TCD flesh out these ideas in a more matured, honed manner and come through with a more complete project as a result, one that keeps your attention far after it initially takes hold of you. But as it stands on its own, "Die On Mars" is some pretty solid, unadulterated fun, lightning in a bottle for anyone who's obsessed with the absurd just as much as they're obsessed with the brutal.