Review Summary: Let's get weird. Real weird.
In hindsight, 100 Gecs were really just a symptom of a broader trend: music is getting quite strange—they just happened to take one for the team and ingest all the vitriol. Check in on metal and its associated genres to witness the circus, including the nearing-parody levels of saxophone abuse and incessant indulgence of dissonance. Trend-chasing revolves around gimmicks instead of successful styles, concepts erect mirrors to display a divided world delving further into disillusionment, production hijinks abuse effects and samples liberally—the list goes on. It’s a desperate pushing of the envelope that’s equal parts accidental and deliberate; Zapruder didn’t intend their blues ‘n -core sound to become wildly experimental, but it developed consequentially from their desire to party up and enjoy life alongside friends, whereas Frontierer meticulously organized their insanity to accomplish an incredibly clear goal. Somewhere along the way, that mythical term of ‘originality’ started to pop its head over the trenches, and while wielding it is a dangerous game—what do you mean
nobody did this before?!—it seems appropriate for this new wave of frenzied, unpredictable musicianship.
Regardless of intent, The Callous Daoboys embody this quest to be silly in practically every facet. Unbridled dissonance parades about wonky soundscapes that yank motifs to-and-fro with sparse reasoning to do so, electronic elements and violin passages invade whenever they choose, menacing bass grooves command attention before squealing guitars opt to dismiss them—all the while the band delivers each note with a sh*t-eating grin, offering deadly serious prose in one second and unintelligible one-liners the next. It’s all a joke until it’s not, at which point it loops back around to being pure entertainment. Debut effort Die On Mars
already came steeped in a B-movie-esque aura that necessitated a suspension of disbelief, what with the seemingly inane lyrics and the cheesy Dillinger-like freak-outs that punctuated vicious breakdowns. Take all of that craziness, augment it tenfold, inject copious amounts of melody for good measure, and a much more formidable beast emerges. Anticipated follow-up Celebrity Therapist
delivers on the Georgia group’s potential and then some, impeccably balancing thrilling heaviness and astounding catchiness. Not only is it among the strangest albums to grace the contemporary metalcore scene in years, it’s arguably one of the finest; this sophomore effort can provide limitless ecstasies through a plethora of avenues, consistently altering into something impossible to nail down.
Whereas previous works were buoyed primarily by a focus upon darkened interiors, utilizing weighty grooves to purvey madness, Celebrity Therapist
brings a surprising amount of melody into the fold. The cooperation between these two facets grants the record its unparalleled style, permitting each member to flourish individually and buttressing the various clean sections or sudden eruptions of hectic energy. This powerful dichotomy is evident by opener “Violent Astrology” and its volatile instrumentation. The complexity is amplified immediately as jagged guitars jostle for space, this time receiving supplementary support by buzzing synth lines and cascading electrical effects. Combined with the rancorous vocals of Carson Pace, the intensity becomes suffocating, bounding from punishing breakdowns boosted by a thunderous bass to fast-paced bursts of cacophonous riffs and pounding drums. However, the collective manages to steer this violence into a second half characterized more so by restraint; Pace flexes his distinct clean singing, adding a tinge of vulnerability in a surprisingly melancholic portion that opts to create space through softer textures. Subsequent “A Brief Article Regarding Time Loops” uses these reserved songwriting exercises—in this case, an eerie spoken word interlude—to recoup for another onslaught, leaping headfirst into a crushing breakdown that spotlights the monstrous lows of Jackie Buckalew. Anchoring the track’s refrain is a pulverizing groove that similarly makes wonderful use of the bass, pairing a catching vocal melody alongside a domineering low-end riff that promotes indefinite headbanging. Cementing the bedlam are scratchy violin notes that spread an immersive ambiance of madness, coloring the scenery with its discordant quality. It’s a tug-of-war fight of melodic strings and their foreboding opposites, both of which elevate what the Daoboys were originally capable of.
The compositional abilities of the Daoboys have overall reached an incredible level. In this new melodic framework, the collective can construct awe-inspiring moments that arise from elongated journeys as opposed to aggressive assaults. They’re still infinitely successful in the latter; “Beautiful Dude Missile” is a veritable tornado of funky bass riffs, glitchy synthesizer effects, and corrosive guitars. Every piece is intriguing, in constant motion, and shifting on demand to engineer something grand while offering copious layers to analyze. Yet it’s the former that definitively reveals the structural prowess at play; consider the shockingly atmospheric “Title Track,” which leans heavily on subtle synth landscapes and Pace’s charismatic performance. A harsh introduction featuring discordant guitars decays into vocal harmonies that mix in Whitney Jordan’s somber singing, eventually evolving into a forlorn, albeit resounding chorus that erupts from the ambiance. Delicate cords are methodically deconstructed by screams, attacks from the guitars, and the omnipresent bass, slowly prodding at the emotional haze clouding the tune, progressing slowly to a finale that throws everything at a wall and smashes it to pieces. A melodic riff guides the way before it too is swept away in a lingering scream by Pace, allowing static to seep in and silence the dissonance. Album highlight “Star Baby” displays this same methodology, assailing any comers with foot-tapping metalcore grooves and spiraling guitars, only to embark upon a jaw-dropping metamorphosis that terminates in a gorgeous clean break. A roaring saxophone and a happy-go-lucky piano shed the heaviness of the prior minutes, building upon the ashes a bombastic finish that feels like an excerpt from a twisted Broadway musical. In typical Daoboy fashion, it’s demonstrated with a trademark sly wink—who knows what’s real here? –but what cannot be disputed is the stunning groundwork required to reach such a captivating peak.
What inevitably establishes Celebrity Therapist
as a disc of certain importance is how it seemingly accomplishes the impossible: it concocts a style that, while possessing traceable influences, begins to take on an identity of its own. This owes significant credit to the aforementioned impressive songwriting maturity on display, which permits disparate elements to enter and exit organically without causing a jarring moment. A cut a la “The Elephant Man in the Room” races through a dizzying number of motifs, pounding the listener with serpentine guitars at one moment, then hitting a new gear into a bouncy refrain, then jumping into a playful, jazzy break, then dismantling that
with swirling violin notes and squealing cords, yet there’s a consistent through-line to each, be it the guitars or the robust percussion performance of Sam Williamson—the man admirably grounds the dramatics, switching styles on a whim to cement transformations as genuine. The time-signature manipulation at play and all the different tempo changes are undeniably wild, but therein lies the appeal; there’s an enticing mania in how, say, “What is Delicious? Who Swarms?” blends saxophone noodling, a bluesy chorus, abrasive technicality, and polished guitar melodies while synthesizer notes decorate the background. It’s as fervently virtuosic as extreme mathcore can be, though the rhythms inserted here and the supporting aspects that join them aren’t being concocted this seamlessly elsewhere. All is in service to generating an emotive, frenzied experience that refuses to sit still, instead advancing new concepts and ideas around ever corner. It could be the beautiful second half of “Star Baby” or the delightful grooves of “Beautiful Dude Missile” –either way, the end result is a unique mixture willing to take substantial risks.
It takes significant talent to not only branch out from underneath genre titans, but to also craft a sonic identity that can be recognized on just a cursory visit. If any existing metalcore act is on the verge of staking a claim to the ever-elusive term of originality, the Georgia septet are possibly the closest to amalgamating their inspirations into something radically of their own hand, and it’s presented in a faultlessly cohesive manner despite the innumerable whiplash-causing themes running amok. It’s an authentic attempt at ceaseless experimentation that not only rebels against convention, but lovingly flaunts its outwardly irrational decisions. An overarching concept is at play—this idea that life is a repeating loop, be it personal spheres or the world at large—but it’s uncertain if the Callous crew are the Zapruder or the Frontierer of the tale. The truth above all else is that a band honest-to-goodness named The Callous Daoboys kicked down the door of 2022 and provided one of the strongest efforts of the year. In spite of the revival of the metalcore scene generating a vast crowd of novel outfits, Celebrity Therapist
carves out a niche none others can conquer. This is a record that can shout about drawing octopuses and dumb Punisher-stans ranting on Facebook, then can suddenly serve emotional gut-punches about severed relationships and questions of self-worth. On paper, it should never work—there’s no way this violin isn’t another gimmick, or those synths are more than a HORSE the Band tribute—but in execution, it’s unfathomably riveting. This is the absolute state of music nowadays: entirely silly, experimental to the brink of flopping, and it’s an unusual joy to behold to madness.