Review by Rick Ossian
I am a bit ambivalent as I begin this particular missive. See, I thought DYK would just be pure thrash all the time; you know, 100 % of the time. Well, it is and it isn’t. Sometimes it’s more like prog metal, or just plain out heavy rock – well orchestrated, mind you, but still just heavier than any heavy thing! I was astounded at the vocal purity of some passages, especially on hearing the first track, A New Beginning. The reason being …Beginning is just that – definite hard core thrash. I can actually visualize a mosh pit forming during the playing of this number. It’s not just that, though — the eclectic nature of this disc actually took me by surprise. I was fully ready to completely dismiss DYK sight unseen, or, erm, unheard, if you will. Instead, I changed my mind and decided to listen to it today.
By the way, before I get too far, I should probably mention that DYK are from Los Angeles, California, and their personnel is listed as follows: Howard Jones on vocals, Francesco Artusato and Roy Lev-Ari on guitars, John Sankey on drums and Ryan Wombacher on bass. As I mentioned before, it’s NOT just out-and- out thrash. Sure, there’s plenty of that, but there’s lots of other stuff, too! By other stuff, do I mean run-of-the-mill thrash? No, no, dearies; remember I’m talking about eclectic here. I know it’s cool when your favourite singer growls and you can scream along with him and bang your head simultaneously. Of course that’s cool, right? Imagine that very same singer being able to swap vocals to do both the growling AND straight singing, sometimes even in the same set of lyrics (erm, verse), and particularly in the chorus(es). It’s enough to get even ME excited, and with thrash that’s not always a certainty. I’m working on that part of my tolerance issue, though, trust me!
The second track (right, it’s about time Rick!) is My Own, another heavy, thrashing slice of a tune. This number features the growl-styled vocals, and guitars-a-plenty, with some regular/straight vocals thrown in during the choruses again. ‘I stand alone’ seems to be the moniker of this tune. Very triumphant chords at the end. Embracing the Torture is a double-time, busy-as-hell drummer sort of a song, with both growly and shiny vocals at the fore. It’s still dark (‘it’s never enough’ is a repeated phrase here), but there are some moments where you can feel the clouds give way a bit.
For the Dead and Broken features a cool psych guitar opening, and regular vocals without the growl. Looking back at that particular sentence, it comes to my attention that I always mention this, and probably make too big of a deal out if it, but there you have it! Some people prefer to hear their singers sing the straight stuff. If your singer can do both (which Howard can!), then you’re golden! Win win for everyone, right? This remains to be seen. As I’ve mentioned before, there are moments here when even the growly stuff found me banging my head. You know how I feel about the growly stuff, dear reader; therefore, you are welcomed, invited, even subpoenaed, if you will, to listen to these cats when they growl and even when they don’t!
Seven Years Alone is yet another heavy duty slammer of a track. This is what I would deem choice, Grade-A thrash here – not only that, there is a guitar solo(??) at the 2:10 mark (surprise!), and some excellent overall vocal and musical (instrumental work going on here. I find myself at this time wondering why I even considered passing these blokes by…BAD Rick! It’s Over was another surprise, with guitars STRUMMING on the intro, and I really dug the vocals – some EXTREME vocals happening here, people – LISTEN UP! (‘You won’t see me again‘)
A Mind Insane features a cool retro guitar opening again, then a scream all of a sudden and some WICKED good drumming, then more growl – but not JUST growling this time; intense, powerful, MOVING growling, and double-time drums to boot! The drummer is VERY busy on this track, and there is a tasty guitar solo at 2:20. They pause only for a millisecond, then double-time again, pounding out some seriously shredding thrash. There are some harmony vocals at about 3:15, then, lo and behold, Wyrdness Abounds at the 3:30 mark! Even up until the fadeout! Surprises galore, then!
Crawl From the Dark is another very powerful number, with a cool rhythm beat as well. I was reminded of Slayer for, if nothing else, sheer ferocity. Lyrically, as well (‘as I watch them burn down’) (‘from the ashes resurrected‘). This track even mixes in some tall, proggy-style production at several points. All this within the space of 4 minutes or so! There is a guitar solo at the 3:30 mark that continues to the fadeout.
The Killer begins with ‘rainbow’ riffing, if you will, and a guitar-plucking intro of sorts. Think Uli Jon Roth or Yngwie Malmsteen, and you’d not be far off the mark. Then, all of a sudden, POW – back to the headfirst thrash brigade! ‘I will watch you die‘, they moan. ‘STAY AWAY FROM ME’, they cry, and I’m pretty sure a repeated warning like that would deliver the message pretty strongly. ‘You will walk with black skies/I will be your killer/ I’ll be the one/I’ll kill you every day/If you drink from the poison/ I swear I will watch you die‘. Man, that’s some seriously hateful stuff!
I Am the Nothing is extremely cool. There are straight vocals again this time, and Howard shows he can hit the sky if he needs to! How does he DO that when his vocal cords are surely shredded to fine dusty bits? I don’t understand. There is even a vocal solo of sorts here at the 3-minute mark! They should do that a cappella stuff more often in my opinion. There is also a light dose of violin at the closer here…yes, I said violin! Dig that, if you will!
Shut It Down is pure thrash, shredding vocal chords again. There is an element of the storyteller vibe seeping in from the side, then some slamming drums and a ‘riff solo’ at about 2:20. At 2:55, the vocals shine briefly,then they slam back into things hard and heavy. There is also an ass-kicking fadeout on this track.
The closer, As Bright As the Darkness, includes a cool guitar intro, and a definitely demonic, almost Sabbath-esque chord/riffing sequence. I got a distinct Planet Caravan vibe for a moment or two, then straight into a serious Type O Negative tribute, if you will. I had to listen to this track an extra time or two just to believe my ears. This brought back wonderful memories of having worked production with Peter Steele and co. (what was that clanging sound? Was it a name being dropped? – Ed) just a few short years ago (well, okay, more than just a few) on their first two tours through our capital city. I helped load/unload their gear and got autographed swag in addition to my meagre pay envelope, which made it all worthwhile. So, to politely wrap up, I’d like to thank DYK for the memories, if nothing else! If you like your thrash a bit on the heavy, eclectic, proggy side, then this is for you! If not, then seek elsewhere, my friends!