A couple of years ago, through my involvement with this website, I crossed paths with Down-Stares independently released album The Watershed. This was an album that pushed me to my limits as a music critic because, as someone who prefers neatly defined genre categories and, even more so, inaccessibility in my music, Down-Stares is a challenge because of its blatant catchiness and hodgepodge mixture of influences from the world of heavy music. But I was simultaneously impressed with the albums eclecticism and attitude. Sometimes real creativity coming out of a genre left for dead (hard rock, screamo, chugga-chugga metal, or whatever) by the critics can be a hard pill to swallow.
Down-Stares are back with Cobras & Matadors, out on T.Rex Ate My Face Records, which takes the production up a notch and displays a more aggressive, straightforward sound. The songs are fairly diverse, but theyre all heavy, emotionally charged, anthemic rock, with some being more metal than others and some being more punk than others. I think the more melodic, screamo-styled songs (Para Mi Familia, Speed Dial, and An Ambulance Named Emergency) are more solid and compelling than the chuggy metallic ones (264 Roselawn and Cujo (This Is For the Losers)). There are also some cool, surprisingly progressive melodies interspersed within the songs, which is one thing I liked about The Watershed.
Overall I dont really dig the overlaying screaming/singing parts, but I will say one thing: there are songs on this album that definitely elicit an emotional response, once I listened with open ears. This response is one that brings me back to being an impressionable, vulnerable high school kid who felt like this kind of music was speaking directly to him. At its best moments, the melodic progression and pace of the album remind me of the heartbroken tone of Misery Signals Of Malice and the Magnum Heart, an album that I had long forgotten but still carries a certain significance in the evolution of my musical tastes. People change and their tastes in music change along the way, but this music must be doing something right if the atmosphere can transport me directly back to a very specific phase of my life, many years behind me. Its obvious to me now that Down-Stares isnt in its particular musical niche for money, success, etc. Its just what the band does best and I can respect that.
6.6 / 10
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