Sunday, October 14, 2012
The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza - Danza IIII: The Alpha - The Omega (2012)
Country: Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Label: Black Market Activities
Of any year end list I've made in the last several years (I did start doing it before I started this blog so there are more that are not posted), one of the few things I regret not posting was 2010's Danza III: The Series of Unfortunate Events. I thought that was a great record and so I was really looking forward to this album when they first announced it's progress around the same time Danza III was about to be released. Here we are, two years later and the band are now saying this is their final album.
I'll admit it, I think Danza (which is what I will be referring the band to in this review) is a good band. It took me several tries to get into them, but in the end I actually found a band that did make leaps forward with every release they put out and managed to finally impress me with their last album. With the addition of Josh Travis to the band on guitar, he really upped the band's game and made it into something unique and really interesting, something that was only hinted at on releases prior to his arrival. His recent album with new band Glass Cloud shows that he is certainly capable at writing more straightforward and accessible songs, but that album didn't have the personality or charisma that Danza has and I think that it was simply a lack of him throwing in more spastic and dissonant riffs, and obviously the lack of vocalist Jessie Freeland. He isn't the greatest vocalist out there, and frankly, if you put him into another band, he'd probably just come off as just another deathcore vocalist. But the thing I've found listening to Danza is that while his style isn't all that original or unique, what he happens to do is deliver and convey a sense of passion that many of his peers do not. Unlike many other vocalists who growl/scream/yell/etc., when I listen to Freeland, you can hear that he is putting everything into what he's saying, and that's something that I do not get from many other bands.
But, onto this album. Before it was even released, the now duo had said that they had focused on writing songs for this album instead of trying to cram as many notes and winding dissonance into a track as possible, and that definitely shows. Sure, there are the obligatory non-stop freakout of You Won't and This Is Forever, but then there are the more interesting and thought provoking (for this band) tracks like Hold The Line or the eerily melodic This Cut Was The Deepest. While the overly technical nature that the band exhibited on early releases was what initially drew me to them in the first place, I do think that it is fitting for them to have grown to the point to where even they adhere to more conventional song structures and ideas. Also, I have to say that this is probably the only time I've ever appreciated the vocal stylings of Alex Erian or Phil Bozeman. I was never a Despised Icon fan and never saw much of the appeal of Whitechapel, but I actually think they do a solid job on The Alpha/The Omega. Bozeman actually does a really good job in my opinion, really bringing in some guttural power and intensity to the track which was genuinely surprising. However, to say that this album is up with Danza III would be lying, for in my opinion this is the more flawed album.
While that album was full of songs, one after another, that just repeatedly hit the listener in the face with impressive songwriting and technicality, this one is full of tracks that either act as filler interludes or in the case of Paul Bunyan and The Blue Ox, a strange instrumental. Obviously, I have no problems with instrumentals, but there were two things that really proved to be rather irksome while listening to this track. One, why is Jesse not on it? I'm serious, because I don't see any reason why he couldn't be on this track, and it's the longest track on the album. Normally this wouldn't bother me, but I hate it, HATE IT, when a band with a vocalist makes an instrumental track the longest song on the album. To me, it's like a waste to not to have Jesse on it. Secondly, it's a bit too disjointed for my taste. The first five or six minutes work fine, but then it just skids into random ideas that sound like they weren't finished and were just tacked on because the band thought they were cool. No, no, no, don't do that, it doesn't work! Obviously these are just personal problems I have with the track, but boy did they annoy me. I can get past all the interludes, except for maybe Some Things Better Left Unsaid, which is genuinely pointless to the album, but that instrumental just really irritated me.
In the end, it is a flawed, but still very good album. The actual tracks themselves are actually really good, but they're broken up by repetitive filler and two lengthy and rather inconsequential tracks. If you're a fan of the band, you'll listen to this regardless of what I have to say, but if you're new, I'd say to stream it before you buy it.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: You Won't, This Cut Was The Deepest, The Alpha/The Omega, Don't Try This At Home