FEBRUARY 13th 2012
DISPHHRAXIA:DO OR DIE
Review By: Barretticus
I'm not really sure where to start with these guys. This has proven to be a hard review to write and I apologize for taking so long but I was quite confused by my mixed feelings about this album. When I listen to this album, I want so much more from it; it's like I can taste the potential. I wanted so much to love these songs but as it stands, there are a few factors that bring it down. Small things that I think can be improved on the next time and have a much more satisfying results.
Something that some bands may not think about (and I know some don't because I have had this argument before) is when you are selling, giving away or promoting a cd, an album, you, your band, your music etc., you are not just trying to sell your music, but you are in fact selling a product. The music may be eighty to ninety percent of the product depending on the medium it comes in, but that other left over percentage is important too and should not be overlooked. It is all a product. It is here that, right of the bat, Dispraxia fails to understand this.
The art slapped on a nice digi-pack and accompanying booklet insert is awful. Just really terrible. It looks like what a bored horny 16 year old kid draws in class. As far as I can tell, the imagery of a large breasted, blonde anime-ish, girl in gratuitous T and A poses has nothing to do with the lyrics in the booklet, aside from "Slide" which is transparent in it's innuendo. The level of musicianship and the age of the band members are above this as the art may have been free or a favour by a friend, it completely detracts from the band's most likely authentic attempts to be noticed and taken seriously. Likewise, aside from the art, the band name/logo typography leaves a little too much to be desired.
The lyrics are a problem as well as i found them to be Vague and non-specific, transparent and bland. The words suffer from being uninspired and lacking in a diverse vocabulary. Not to say that a vocalist shouldn't write his own lyrics, but if the music suffers because he's not necessarily a good writer, then maybe it should be a more collaborative effort. Neil Peart writes the majority, if not all, the lyrics for Geddy to sing; I believe at least 5/9ths of Slipknot contribute to lyrical content, Burt Ward and Tony Iommi wrote for Ozzy, etc. Experiment with writing, together or each member individually to find what works. If day to day life in Oshawa is generally uninspired, that's the way it is for alot of people....that's okay. But the trick to writing is to find something that you can talk about; a book, a movie, a news story, something worth the time and effort that you put into the pen and paper portion. Something to be specific about.
Third, last, and my biggest complaint are the vocals themselves. They aren't terrible but they aren't great either. Michael's vocals are very inconsistent and all around a spectrum of styles, for lack of a better word. His voice goes from a growly, sing-songy voice to attempting a deep throaty melody line to a higher gravelly singing style and later again that sounds almost whiney and strained, and then to "regular" singing. Being able to change vocal styles is great, if the singer can do it properly. The melodies often try to follow along too much with the guitar. If Michael is serious about being a vocalist, there is no shame in taking voice lessons. They would probably do him alot of good and help him actually find his voice. He's a really good guitarist, but his vocals need to catch up.
Now that that is out of the way, the good, and it is actually pretty good, is the music itself. There are definitely alot of good riffs and they guys sound pretty tight together. If I had received a CD-R, with no imagery, of the instrumental version of this album, I would have been much happier. My favourite track is the last one: Electric Circus. A really fun, semi-technichal song with lots of layering and warmth. This song goes along really well with the Jelly and new fireworks type visualizers in iTunes. These give very fitting imagery to Electric Circus. I also really enjoyed Drug of Choice as I like the opening riff and how it works just as well or better when the heavy is cranked up on. But again, the vocals and lyrics take much away from the music.
The music is great and I want to hear it grow for the next album as I want to hear more layering, more experimentation and separation with the guitar and bass riffs, bigger more technical drums, time signature experiments.
Do or Die is a solid effort and my complaints mentioned earlier can be fixed easy enough. A first recording is tough and mistakes are made (I speak from experience), but if you carry forward that which works, and figure out how to fix what doesn't, each time things will get better. Though I will only walk away with two songs that I will listen to on a regular basis this time (which is still good I think), I will look forward to and gladly give a thorough listening to the next thing these guys produce!