Artist: Daath (http://www.daathmusic.com)
Release Date: January 2004
Recommended Tracks: Filter, Child Says, Blender For The Baby
Beginning a series of reviews of bands participating in the upcoming Utter Destruction Fest August 14th, we have Atlanta's own techno-industrial-sci-fi death metal veterans and frequent WREKage visitors Daath (formerly Dirt-Nap). It can be tough for a new band to establish an identity in a crowded cookie-cutter metal scene, but Daath jumps right out of the gate on their album Futility with a bizarre warped acoustic guitar intro that would sound right at home as the opening theme to a macabre carnival attraction, and indeed, the rest of the album is a sideshow full of sonic surprises as well. You may think every possible sound has been done to death in the metal scene, but it certainly hasn't been done to Daath yet.
Daath (rhymes with "goth"... and don't call them Death!) play a unique brand of metal difficult to categorize, but definitely not difficult to listen to. In fact, the production values are outstanding for a self-produced independent release, and serve as a highlight of the album. Clean, crisp guitar, drum and vocal attacks pound you right from the start and don't let up throughout the entire album. Guitarist Eyal Levi runs his own production studio Hairy Breakfast Productions in Atlanta (and is producing the new Misery Index EP as of this writing), and it's clear he saved some of his best work for his own album. Daath's self-described techno-death metal sound is well captured in all its madness with downtuned chugging guitar riffs spread out over pulsating drum and rhythm sections and more random beeping and blooping than a hundred Pac Man games running at once. Vocalist Mike Kameron's spastic death metal delivery (which is surprisngly easy to understand and well enunciated to the trained death metal ear) is a good fit for the music, as his all-over-the-place growling serves as an excellent complement to the all-over-the-place sonic chaos swirling behind him.
The music is a blend of campy sci-fi metal bands like White Zombie and Powerman 5000 (though much, much heavier) and heavy industrial death metal like Zyklon and Fear Factory (though a little lighter). Daath kinda exists as a happy medium between the two fields, and should appeal to fans of both genres. Those in the death metal camp will appreciate the all out sonic assault on tracks like "Child Says" and "Blender for the Baby", while those looking for a dash of spaced-out weirdness will enjoy floating along in their mind to tracks like "Filter" and "Just For A Second". There's a little something for everyone here, whether you're looking for something to snap your neck with or something to snap your fingers along to.
However, occasionally the band strays too far away from its strengths to the experimental side of things, often with mixed results. Some of the random sound effects fall in the "trying too hard to sound different" category and serve more as a distraction than a compliment. For example, there's an electronic buzzing sound about a minute into "Child Says" that takes attention away from the cool riffing going on in the background, and there are a few other moments like this where the music is sacrificed for an unneeded sound effect. The album is also almost split right down the middle time-wise, with the heavier stuff standing front and center the first half while the trippy space rock stuff lingers on in the last half. It seems to me that more of a mixup of the track listing would better serve the flow of the album, rather than building up the heaviness then slowing down to a complete stop for the last 15-20 minutes. Frankly I'd rather them do a whole album of heavier stuff and just cut out all the slower stuff altogether, but then again, I'm not the one exploring all the branches of the Tree of Life, so what do I know?
For a debut album however, the band does a great job of announcing their intentions to the world both musically and artistically. There's definitely room for improvement, but on the same token there's definitely something special and unique going on here that could explode into full-fledged metal greatness one day. Speaking of metal greatness, the boys from Daath do put on one hell of a live show (and wisely avoid playing the slower stuff in favor of the crowd-smashing metal numbers), and are defintely worth the price of admission on whatever bill they're on. If you're looking to blast off into space riding on what could be the next wave of metal, Daath's Futility may just be the ticket you're looking for.
Artist: Daath (http://www.daathmusic.com)