[19 November 2006]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
Canada Songs, the 2003 album by Providence, Rhode Island grindcore/mathcore madmen Daughters, was an absolutely thrilling disc that packed more into its fleeting eleven minutes than most bands can cram into a 45 minute record, the quintet melding the dissonant insanity of the Locust with the technical brilliance of the Dillinger Escape Plan. Chaotic but remarkably controlled, it was the kind of music that a person could only bear for eleven minutes, a sound that, for all its required dexterity, could easily start to sound repetitive. Daughters must have felt the same way, because their second LP blindsides listeners yet again, but in a completely different way. Clocking in at 23 minutes, a veritable epic for this band, Hell Songs focuses not on grind intensity (though the influence is still there), but on mood and dynamics, the band adding a great deal of variety, from quieter interludes, jagged, angular guitar screeches, the usual spectacular double-bass fueled drumming, and best of all, a new singing style employed by Alexis Marshall, who shows more charisma and range than his monotonous high-pitched screams ever did before, drawling like a drunkard on the wonky Primus-goes-grind “Daughters Spelled Wrong” and proselytizing like a lunatic on “Boner X-Ray”. “Fiery” boasts a cool post-punk groove, “The Fuck Whisperer” is every bit as spellbinding of technical wizardry as the Dillinger Escape Plan has done, and “Recorded Inside a Pyramid” is contagious enough to compel even the most sensible-minded listener to burst into that ridiculous hardcore dancing the kids do. The most dramatic stylistic shift by an extreme band in 2006, Hell Songs is a mere glimpse of what this immensely talented band is capable of.