Others: Some Girls, Combatwoundedveteran, An Albatross, As The Sun Sets
While everyone else at TMT was waiting for the new Comets On Fire or maybe... well, actually just the new Comets On Fire (and yes, I luv it 2), the gumshoe was going through an agonizing wait for the new Daughters disc. Ever since the former members of As The Sun Sets released a face-stabbing tour 7-inch and the flawless grind of Canada Songs in 2003, I've been clamoring for Hell Songs like football/ski season, nervously checking the mail for the promo: the promo that would change things for me, maybe help me get my priorities in line. Hey, good grindcore can turn a bobble-headed man-queef into a respectable citizen, or at least that's my take on it.
From note one, this is a naked, balls-out attempt on the band's part to diversify. New label, new bass player... it makes sense that they'd pull their legos apart and stick different colors together, but Hell Songs goes beyond nip-and-tuck renovations while staying somewhat grounded. The singing is... singing; that's the first surprise. Lex, the lead screamer who never even revealed a hint of his natural voice in the past, has decided to ditch the tired "If I don't scream the whole time I must be a pussy" axiom. Many resort to canned emo or, worse, make the transition from growler to howler, but Lex's vocal flexing is believable and enjoyable, a harangue directly descended from Danzig's East Coast-as-Texan-drawl and Nick Cave's obtuse bellow.
As he howls and harangues and waxes heretical, his band twists busy, frenetic duel-guitar leads atop slide-heavy bassing and double-bass rhythms. The tendency of the drummer to break into a four-on-the-floor dance beat in between transitions is by now a contrived link from one riff to the next, but his deft taps of his cymbals' bells and other such flourishes are a huge element of the Daughters/ATSS canon, and he doesn't disappoint.
And what's this waltzing into the fray? Strings? Fuck it, why not? While integrating these enticing new elements, Daughters manage to choke off their progression just enough. They don't sound like a different band, and they're not trying to. They are simply being the best, most stately Daughters they can be. Instead of going off half-cocked, they build on their already well-respected legacy without burying it. I really can't say enough about their savvy; this is a group that makes an artform out of intensity, playing intricate guitar figures that intersect and weave in and out of one another while the double bass chugs and the vocals glug-glug. They have yet to record a bad song. With Canada Songs, they made it sound easy. With Hell Songs, they don't glide as effortlessly around their junkyard of twisted metal, but their vision is so pure, their skills so honed, they ace the dreaded sophomore-album exam.
1. Daughters Spelled Wrong
3. Recorded Inside A Pyramid
4. Boner X-Ray
5. Feisty Snakewoman
6. Providence By Gaslight
7. Hyperven Tilationsystem
8. Crotch Buffet
9. Cheers, Pricks
10. The Fuck Whisperer