Thursday 28 September 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Disastroid - "Screen"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full length
Date Released: 02/10/2017
Label: Independent

A few listens through "Screen" and you're certain to hear a truly unique voice at work.

“Screen” CD//DD track listing

1. Screen
2. New Day
3. Dinosaur
4. I Didn't Kill Myself
5. Getting in the Way
6. Coyote
7. Choke the Falcon
8. Clinical Perfection
9. Gunslinger

The Review:

With more than 10 years in, San Francisco's heavy music trio Disastroid have seemingly outlasted their share of other acts. Over that decade, the group has built a strong following in the Bay Area through its many live shows and steady output. Now back for the first time since a seven-inch of post-punk tracks last January, the team has something to prove.

Longevity is a weird thing. Performers can either get better as they age or their material can sound stale and uninspired without challenges. Disastroid's 2014 release, "Missiles," received positive press for a formula it continues on "Screen." Given the buzz the band has gotten during their tenure for its music, one has to ask if the new stuff can meet the high bar the group has previously set.

A lot gets made of Disastroid's seemingly undefinable sound. It's really not that difficult, frankly. The band does a version of hard rock that is influenced by heavier genres, such as post-punk, doom and hardcore. You may have heard this kind of hybrid more and more over the last couple of years, in part because it is listenable and gives musicians a lot of space to explore their own inspirations and concepts. On "Missiles," Disastroid happened to rise above the din of performers plying their trade here through sheer chemistry and creativity. Yet as more bands gravitate to this corner of music, standing out can only get more contentious. With that come issues of simply making better music too.

On a positive note, the California crew's new release, its fourth full length, continues its own musical tradition in grand style.

The title track kicks off this recording, and it is a superb example of why Disastroid's blend of melodic music is so disarming. The composition is particularly great, with the guitars and Travis Williams' bass complementing Braden McGaw's drums. Production on vocals is excellent; it is just enough to make it distinct, but muddy enough to keep it from mainstream rock. You get more of that post-punk vein with "New Day" and "I Didn't Kill Myself" – they're the subsequent cuts and demonstrate aptly Disastroid's commitment to its craft as well as creating an album poised to evolve the group's long-honed sound.

Sometimes the aforementioned heavier styles get more prominent on "Screen" – catch the doom soaked "Dinosaur" for example – but Disastroid is fundamentally a band anchored to hard rock. One might expect it sounds more interesting to portray unclassifiability than a style a few might find passé, but really Disastroid is one of the best independent bands out there doing what they do. And it is flourishes like "Getting in the Way," which does post-punk and hard rock stunningly well, that show you how talented Disastroid is at creating a bigger, bolder soundscape than three players might otherwise seem to offer.

"Screen" has many memorable forays. The syncopated rhythms and original arrangement of "Gunslinger" give it a classic feel. Even the briefest cut, "Clinical Perfection," with its dense drum and bass foundation, packs tremendous power. "Coyote" feels like zenith on "Screen." As one of the longer songs situated toward the middle of the album, its stoner-infused guitar chord progressions and building bassline set an introspective mood. Here and throughout, guitarist/vocalist Enver Koneya gets a nod for singing that's actual singing. Koneya can set the tone with his lyrical delivery, and does it with aplomb. A few listens through "Screen" and you're certain to hear a truly unique voice at work.

"Screen" is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook