July 8, 2010

Music Review: The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza - Danza III: The Series of Unfortunate Events

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to stare down the barrel of a band called The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza and live to tell the tale. Will you be able to withstand the force of this studio trio and survive? Will you be able to tell me who's the boss? Ha! I tried, unfortunately my brain's comedy center is still having trouble contemplating the origins of this band name. Seriously, who comes up with these band names. To say I had no idea what I was in for would be an understatement. Is this going to be some sort of tongue in cheek comedy act? Legitimate tap dance music? A serious excursion into emo-rock? I had no idea, although, considering it is coming out on Metal Blade Records, I am doubting the emo-rock and legit tap dance options

No sooner had I pressed 'play' that I was faced with an extreme surging blast of metal. It sounded familiar yet fresh at the same time. I head combinations of Cephalic Carnage and Meshuggah while also something that seemed distinctly original to The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza. I am hoping my ears are not betraying me into hearing something I want to hear that isn't really there. Considering how late I came to music and how my exposure to different styles still has a long way to go, I may be liking this for the wrong reasons. Still, the fact that I am out there giving it a shot should not necessarily disqualify my enjoyment or my opinion.

The Series of Unfortunate Events is an interesting album, I am not quite sure what genre it belongs to. I have seen labels like technical metal, extreme technical metal, grindcore, groove metal, experimental metal, mathcore, and others. It appears that many others can't quite agree on it ether. I like a combination of mathcore, groove, and extreme technical metal.

The music surges forward like oceanic waves, incessant, never ending, cyclical, and depending on where you jump in, aggressive, powerful, and unforgiving. It is brutal and aggressive, but not in the same way as some of the recent deathcore acts I have been listening too. It certainly can be described in those words, but it does not seem intent on crushing your skull, ripping your face off, or even crushing your bones into powder. It more wants you to join in on the fun. The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza is virtually handing you a spiked bat and inviting to become an active participant in the fun. It works.

There are some incredible guitar lines littered throughout each song, amazing feats of speed, a flurry of notes tapped, picked, raked, you name it. To see them performed just makes my jaw drop. Beyond the note playing ferocity displayed by Josh Travis, there is another component to the guitar playing. There is an insane amount of groove. It is often defined by odd time signatures, but it is very easy to find the groove and get into it. So, besides the technical aspect, you can bang your head to it. It is accessible to all metal fans, making it a god gateway to some of these crazy grindcore style acts.

While I do find this album to be heavily guitar driven, there are other pieces at work. Most importantly is Jessie Freeland on vocals. He is not my favorite metal singer, but he is pretty good. What I like most about the vocal work is how unencumbered by effects it seems to be. So often it sounds like vocal tracks for these more extreme bands get covered in layers of effects, obscuring them, hiding imperfections and the like. Sure, there are some here, but more often than not, it is Freeland's voice cutting through the organized chaos of their music.

Songs to focus on: "Yippie-Kay-Yay-MotherF**ker," "Passenger 57," "Vicki Mayhem," heck, focus on the whole thing.

Bottomline. Didn't know what I was getting into, loved what I found. Heavy, groove-laden, technical, infectious, you name it. The band with the bizarre name show that they are more than just a name, they back up their oddity of a name with a high level of skill and ability to put together interesting music.

Highly Recommended.



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