Dog Shredder - Brass Tactics
Hailing from Washington State, Dog Shredder are a...provocative...progressive metal trio whose idea of "progressive" lies somewhere between Dillinger Escape Plan's math-metal insanity and Fall Of Troy's inherent catchiness. A blend of which I would dare call "prog-pop" if I thought the tumultuous tempo shifts, blazing percussion and unintelligible vocals were many other people's idea of pop, but it does tend to meet a nice middle ground between attention-grabbing and attention-whoring, if you catch my drift. Brass Tactics is the band's 2nd release to date, a short, sweet three-song EP. The strangest thing, apart from the band's ADD musical sense, is how the first two similar tracks somehow act as a staging area for the totally unexpected atmosphere of the outro, which leaves me wondering just what Dog Shredder are aiming for.
To be perfectly fair, "Battle Toads" and "Battle Snake" are excellent examples of a more groove-centric, melodically inclined math metal, where most of the technical prowess is shown in sharp shifts in tempo while residing in familiar time signatures. Drummer Noah Burns is a tornado of limbs behind the kit, here and there and everywhere altogether an animal keeping pace with the extremely high-pace the band likes to reside in. Between them, Josh Holland and Jeff Johnson are quite an enigmatic duo of guitar and bass players, respectively. The swirling, unhinged guitar work is in no way counterpointed by Jeff's similarly frantic bass lines, creating an unhinged atmosphere of creative chaos that will appeal broadly to those who can manage to keep up. The genius of Dog Shredder insofar as I can gleam from a few songs, is their ability to inject very-well timed moments of a more simplistic, melodically ear-grabbing nature between the aural assaults. They come as suddenly as everything else, but are easily the highlights of each track. However, "Battle 07" is what really threw me for a loop; totally ignoring the build-up the previous tracks represented, "Battle 07" is a haunting, depressed and oddly beautiful track, highlighted by a wonderful vocal melody and eerie organ accompaniment. A tight little drum track fills the sound picture perfectly, making the track the EP's highlight despite between a total 180 from what I imagine the "core" sound of Dog Shredder is, as witnessed on the prior two tracks.
Having been pleasantly surprised, my only problem here is that there needs to be more to be had from Dog Shredder. Brass Tactics works more as a demo than an EP in that it is a wonderful introduction to the band, but not long enough to meet my expectations for an enjoyable EP. I guess what I'm saying is that I was left wanting so much more than what I got, but I am very much satisfied with what's been offered. Brass Tactics may not have a broad market, but for those finding their favorite sounds in chaotic progressions and intense experiences, it may be their biggest surprise of the year.
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