When the new downbreed came into my hands to review my ears visually cringed. "Oh no!" I thought, "As a putty-bodied dorky white guy advances swiftly into his thirties, can my aging eardrums withstand such an aural assault?" Then I started the CD and although I couldn't name one member of Korn or any album by Splitknot, Killing the Drama, the latest offering from one of Fort Wayne's most energetic bands, offers enough variety and melody amongst the thick slabs of guitar that even my jaded, fickle ears were satisfied. And with twenty songs and 73 minutes of music, that's quite a feat!
I don't wish to confuse you. I mean, if you're into Muzak versions of Barry Manilow songs or the latest boy band I doubt you'll find much on Killing the Drama that will speak to your heart. But if you like hard rock, and by this I mean any kind of hard rock from classic Van Halen to bands like Tool and Korn, you will not be disappointed. First of all there's "View From The Side" which is also included in the next Essentials CD. With amazing singing and background vocals, the song also incorporates some great sonic guitars that slice through the void. My very first listen picked this one out as a radio single, but not one of those wimpy "written for radio" songs… this is one of those good songs that somehow got past the guards and onto a radio play list. The title track immediately follows, opening with clean guitar and great drum flourishes in the verses before exploding in a fury of distortion in the choruses where the vocalist switches between singing and hoarse screaming for a very engaging listen. Powerful and full of venom, "Gods Grace" is an excellent album opener with a wonderfully eerie bass line and emotive vocals. A thundering assault of guitars used more like percussion instruments is found in "Force Fed" which also contains handclaps (and it works) and a finale of spooky whispers. "My Twisted View" has more disturbing guitar sounds, this time almost ring modulated to a disturbing, underwater vibe that aptly accompanies the lyrics.
As with their past work, downbreed chose to work with Tim Bushong, who, in my book, is THE man for hard rock and metal bands. Under his attentive ears, this dynamic, well-crafted collection of crushing songs are indiscernible from anything produced by a California studio. This is not to discount the band because not only are the songs surprisingly melodic and listenable (even for a semi-geezer like me) but each musician has an amazing degree of expertise, able to coax more than just the typical metal grinding from their instruments. For more information, go to www.downbreed.com or stop by a local Wooden Nickel to add this sizzling album to your collection.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, January 2003.