OWDWYR – Receptor (technical progressive deathgrind)
Here's a cool, underground pick for you! Receptor is only the debut record from progressive tech-grind upstarts OWDWYR (which I'm told is pronounced aʊ ˈdwɪr/“Ow Dweer”), although it comes across like an almost definitive statement from a much more accomplished band. Although the band hail form California, they primarily remind me of two once-revered Australian acts, who seem to have lost their way in recent years. From one angle, they bring to mind what A Million Dead Birds Laughing might sound like if they'd continued down the prog-grind route, instead of ambling of into less-compelling ambient endeavors. From the other, it invokes what the much-touted The Schoenberg Automaton might have wound up getting into if they'd been able to continue developing their sound. While tech-prog is certainly the centrepiece of OWDWYR's sound, Receptor is also a refreshingly varied affair—openly pulling from jazz fusion guitarists, classical composers and Radiohead in its arrangements, and even verging into early-Meshuggah-esque tech-thrash territory come its conclusion. It's a hell of a start, made all the more exciting because it's just the beginning.
Heads up: we'll also have a (rather excellent) Anatomy Of post about OWDWYR coming in a couple of hours, so stay tuned if you like what you hear.
The Callous Daoboys – God Smiles Upon The Callous Daoboys (melodic? mathcore)
Last year's Celebrity Therapist was one of the most acclaimed albums of 2022. Yet, while I could definitely see the skill and potential that album displayed, I also didn't really connect with it, which I put down to some combination of it not seeming like it was quite the finished product, or frenetic, early-Dillinger Escape Plan-aping mathcore just simply not being for me these days. Flash forward just over a year later and we're greeted by a three-track EP that promises a "seismic shift in sound, direction, and tone" that "showcases what this group is capable of ... while seamlessly transcending genre limitations ... to form their most experimental and exciting work yet." and finally deliver "The Callous Daoboys realized". ...and yeah, they absolutely nailed it.
Even at only three-tracks, God Smiles Upon the Callous Daoboys does away with my prior reservations. This feels like a much more refined and confident release, compared with Celebrity Therapist and the way I've been endlessly spamming its two preview tracks over the last week suggests it is indeed, very much for me. There's a notable shift toward more spacious and melodic songwriting, compared with the dense (if controlled) chaos of their previous releases. Outstanding opener "Pushing the Pink Envelope" boasts an absolute all-timer of a chorus that sounds reminiscent of The Xcerts and rivals them their best while comes across like an actually successful version of whatever they were trying to achieve on their new album. It's made all the more effective though by the delayed gratification induced by the band first running you through some of the most punishingly brutish hardcore of their career so far. "Waco Jesus", meanwhile, revels in the punchiness of "Happiness is Just a Smile"/One of Us is the Killer-era Dillinger, while still bringing the hooks, and "Designer Shroud of Turin" assures longtime fans that the band haven't strayed too far from the path with its Salsa-inflected, nu-jazz assault. If Celebrity Therapist is the Callous Daoboys' Miss Machine, then this EP suggests they likely have an Ire Works or Option Paralysis in their future and I couldn't be more hyped.