Reviews Daughters Hell Songs


Hell Songs

Man, The Jesus Lizard really left their mark. And as funny as it seems for such a quaint little band from Chicago, to this very day they're still firmly imprinted and can be spotted ever so clearly within modern music all across the board. Maybe its just that David Yow & Co.'s expansive sound was such a mishmash of punk, rock, attitude, and bizarre licks that it just seems like a lot of bands are trying to imitate it. Maybe their sound is so expansive and engulfs so many musical niches that every other band just happens to have sounds alike them. Or maybe it's just that the sound The Liz' patented reeks of an undeniable coolness and a certain brand of swagger and strut that comes from the testicles of well-fed men and the mind of a mental patient in the outside world. So why does that matter? Well in our terrified world of anti-substance, everyone wants to be just as cool as The Jesus Lizard. Including Providence, Rhode Island's very own little band, Daughters.

You may remember the first incarnation of the members that make up Daughters from the later 1990's. The previous band was a crazy metal-core/grind outfit called As the Sun Sets; they were angry, fast and eventually became a pretty rad grind band with the release of 7744. They even used a few clips from the movie "Jacob's Ladder" on their first record Every Individual Voice is Dead in the Silence, which to me was incredibly brilliant, and different. After a few years, an LP and a couple EP's that band broke up for a few months and reformed as Daughters. They put out a 7" of blazing fast tunes and funny dickhead type song titles like "My Stereo has Mono and so Does My Girlfriend" which fueled quite a few hipsters grind loving fires for quite some time. The entire 7" ran about four minutes and in hindsight was only one sided which equals a dollar per song for the whole purchase - bogus.

After the 7" the people demanded more. Daughters countered everyone's desires by releasing Canada Songs on the Robotic Empire label in 2003, which at the time was a premiere label for up and coming metal/grind/whatever bands. This "full-length" record was only eleven minutes long and full of watered down material as compared to the ferocious nature of the previous vinyl EP. The kids still ate it up despite the mediocre reviews - most critics hated it and scorned it but Daughters still toured relentlessly on the record for months and months and then mysteriously vanished from the public eye.

An announcement was made on the band's own website in early 2006 saying that Daughters were now a member of the Hydra Head Industries roster and working on a new record. This sparked numerous online messageboard speculations and left a lot of people wondering if the band would continue on in the same direction as the last record Canada Songs, if the new album would be longer than a quickie and if frontman Lex would stop with those crazy haircuts, outfits, and microphone blowjobs upon touring. Well friends, sit tight and those answers will arrive.

Enter Hell Songs.

First things first, this new record is a paradox. It is the old version of Daughters and it most certainly is not, get me? There is an unmistakable progression in songwriting and structure, but they retain their old identity with these songs as well as create a new sonic aesthetic. For example, Hell Songs is more than double the length of Canada Songs at twenty-three minutes, but more than half of the songs on it are stretched to little more than a minute apiece - in all honesty the length of the album comes from the song "Cheers Pricks" which is Daughters' longest song ever at a whopping six minutes flat. Also, something else that needs discussed is this: right off the bat you will notice that there is no screaming at all on the record, unless you count the shrieking at the end of the song "Hyperventilation System". This time you only get half sung, half hazy observations from a crazy cat that exceeds in keeping up with the fast paced band. This time vocalist Lex sounds like a sloppy rendition of a sleepy David Yow, sans Steve Albini's production tricks. Sure, it's a style that has been done to death but it works, arguably, considerably well. This is going to be point of contention for advocates of the new Daughters sound and those dismissive of the new direction of Hell Songs.

On the Daughters official website in response to people crying for lack of screaming on Hell Songs it says: "we figured out that screaming is boring." They are not unfounded in this finding, far from it. In the context of the music on this album, it would sound tacky if screaming was present. Keep in mind that there are still plenty of blast beats and crazy weird guitar sounds of Daughters of yore, but this time its whole lot weirder, not just another grind record regurgitation. Comparisons to Arab on Radar or any of the Skin Graft Records and the Providence noise scene have been pulled up, and righteously so. This is a noisy album; the guitars squeak and scream in soprano throughout the record, laced with spaceship sound effects, reverb and even delay at points.

Hell Songs is a successful progression for a couple of reasons. First off, Daughters conquered the grind genre with their first seven-inch and had everyone's jaws gaping for years due to their speed and asshole minded manners and stage show. So what better way to re-emerge after an ultimately disappointing full-length in Canada Songs than with something completely out of left field? That is exactly what they did with Hell Songs. Their signature guitar sound and breakneck speed are all present, only this time riddled with effects. The amalgamation of styles is very seamless as well, the songs are just as chaotic and daunting as before, but now it is more focused and it ultimately makes for a much better listen. The song "Crotch Buffet" was an old, unrecorded favorite live Daughters song, and now on Hell Songs it sounds incredible with semi-coherent vocals and crisp guitars mincing through the song. All of the songs on the album are well thought out; and yes, the vocals definitely succeed in not distracting from the experience, adding a lunatic narrator to even more disorienting music.

Hell Songs picks up where the offspring of Arab on Radar and Daughters left off - dominant Daughters' genes - fronted by David Yow's flamboyant, blazed, alcoholic, evil twin brother. The ruse is convincing enough that you forget you're not listening to the real deal. Even though you know they're not as cool as the originals, the performance is convincing enough to warrant applause and repeat listens. As such, this is not a complete take-off of any of the previous bands, but possibly what would happen if you put them in a blender together. Hell Songs is something of an enjoyable paradox; it's fast, fun, and engaging while being exceedingly confusing and weird. And if you don't like it, relax; the affair is little longer than your last sexcapade.

8.5 / 10Justin
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