Die On Mars by THE CALLOUS DAOBOYS was a good debut – a great one even. As chaotic, creative, often genuinely bewildering mathcore goes, few albums have cut through quite like it in the years since we lost THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN. Finally we had a band who might be able to fill that chasmic void in the metallic post-hardcore landscape – not so much a complete sound-alike (although not without their similarities), but at the very least a fearless spirit-alike. ‘Promising’ would have been an understatement, and yet, with their sophomore full-length Celebrity Therapist, the septet have run so far with that promise that they’ve left both their debut and indeed pretty much any other band bearing the ‘core’ suffix that’s released music in the past year in the dust.
That might seem a little hyperbolic, but then again this is a band who are clearly and completely uninterested in doing anything by halves. On Celebrity Therapist, they throw themselves with full conviction into every idea they have, whether that’s a squall of furious mathcore, a burst of smooth jazz, an earworm alt-rock sing-along, or just an undeniable riff or breakdown. That really is just the tip of the iceberg too; the sheer number of twists and turns THE CALLOUS DAOBOYS throw into these eight tracks and 37 minutes could put the world’s most neck-wrecking rollercoaster to shame, and yet at no point does any of it fail to stick. This is an incredibly well-focused record, one that sinks its hooks in deep and quick in a genre where even some of the best bands can struggle with memorability.
Of course, that’s entirely the point. When we spoke to vocalist Carson Pace for an upcoming feature, he explained that one of his principal intentions as a songwriter was to ensure that every track contained at least one hook. In that regard, Celebrity Therapist is a resounding success. Whether it’s a line like “When I see an American flag I don’t feel a fucking thing even if it’s half mast” in opener Violent Astrology, lead single A Brief Article Regarding Time Loops‘ spoken word segue into deathcore-esque violence, or Beautiful Dude Missile’s repeated chants of “There’s no answer”, this is an album that rarely goes more than a minute without throwing its listeners something they should find easy to catch.
With all this in mind, any fluctuations in quality are almost entirely marginal, but there is definitely something of a central peak in the album’s middle pairing of Title Track and Field Sobriety Practice. Landing either side of the six-minute mark, these are the two longest tracks on the record, and they seem to find the band at arguably their most ambitious of all. The former’s build through a spine-tingling mid-section to a release of towering synth-laden grandeur is unforgettable as soon as you’ve heard it, while the latter’s eruption into a jaw-dropping guitar solo courtesy of CRYPTODIRA‘s Scott Acquavella would be almost hysterically over the top if it didn’t absolutely belong there.
A gold star also definitely has to go to Pace himself. As a harsh vocalist alone he displays an immense versatility that covers everything from feral barks and screams to brutal gutturals, but add to that his often semi-spoken delivery and more extensive use of clean vocals and he becomes impossible to turn away from even amidst the record’s most utterly cacophonous moments. Of course, he’s supported every step of the way by all six of his bandmates, plus a host of guests, and together they steer the album to a staggering close in Star Baby. This one’s another outstanding highlight, its final moments devoted to a relatively straightforward chord progression that allows for a massive sing-along and stunning saxophone solo from the band’s frequent collaborator Rich Castillo. Catharsis, triumph, ecstasy, release – you’ll find it all in these final two-and-a-half minutes.
Even as this review tips well towards the upper limit of the DS word count, there is a real fear that it still hasn’t done this record justice. Celebrity Therapist is quite possibly the most essential release in the worlds of post-hardcore, metalcore and whatever else you want to call it that we’ve had in the 2020s so far, if not for longer. It’s a record that leaves a quick and lasting impression – whether that’s through a lyric, riff, melody or even a joke – while also inviting listeners back time and time again to enjoy fresh and thrilling details on every listen. THE CALLOUS DAOBOYS have already been compared to some of the finest names our scene has ever produced, but here they graduate from any such easy comparisons and step into a world that feels wholly their own.
Celebrity Therapist is set for release on September 2nd via MNRK Heavy/Modern Static Records
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