The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza – Danza III: A Series of Unfortunate Events.
If there is one word that sums up this splendid brute of an album, it’s ‘bludgeon.’ Having made two excellent but essentially quite silly grindcore albums, Tennessee’s most ludicrously named band seem to have taken the decision to see just how good they can be when they stop clarting about with silly audio snippets of rednecks brawling. The answer is that they turn out to be bowelshakingly, blindingly good. This album is one of those rare beasts that comes along every year or so and seems to take not only everything that band have done before, but also everything that is going on in the wider scene, and hone it into one perfect beast. Last year Converge took everything that the hardcore scene had to offer and mashed it into one, moment-defining beast of an album, and that’s exactly what Danza III is.
Whereas before they specialised in grindcore that was loose but still technical and relentless, but here they have stepped everything up a notch.Now they rival Meshuggah for sheer bewildering technicality, throwing out polyrythmic riffs that circle and spiral but nonetheess remain catchy as fuck. When they hired new drummer Mike Bradley they clearly knew what they were doing, his off-kilter beats are just relentlessly magnificent. Production-wise this is another step up from Electric Boogaloo as well. Whereas that had a loose feel that suited the redneck theme, this is taut and battering-ram heavy, with nary a note out of place, but without ever feeling over-produced or bland.
Opener ‘Vicki Mayhem‘ sets out the stall early, with its relentless, and yes bludgeoning aural assault. It mixes together the grind riffing with a precision that is frankly a little bewildering at first, and the guitar sweeps that pepper the song and the rest of the album provide a nice line of light along with the relentless shade. Jessie Freeland’s vocals are the definition of gutteral excellence, and the whole thing just fucking works, fitting together in a way that feels instantly perfect. This is a band who despite a series of member changes are working together in total harmony.
Second track ‘Yippie-Kay-Yay Motherfucker‘ adds some subtle but distinct machine noises to the battering riffs, showing Fear Factory exactly how to balance that sound perfectly. To be quite honest I could go through the whole album track-by-track, but whatever I said would boil down to an essentially identical ‘it’s fucking brilliant.’ Every single track manages to combine their crushing heaviness with moments of delicacy, subtlety and massive hooks. When they slow the pace down, they never let off the ‘crush’ pedal, so the claustrophobic nature of the whole is never diminished. Put simply, it’s consistent it its sheer magnificence.
Seeing as I’ve now run out of superlatives, I guess all that’s left to say is that this is effortlessly a 10/10, and definite contender for album of the year. You go buy now, yes?