Danava – Nothing But Nothing Review

Are you ready to have your face scorched? Danava may sound like a brand of European yogurt but there’s no fruit on the bottom here, just shards of broken beer bottles and rusty guitar strings. The band is a fierce and feisty quartet from Portland who deliver new waves of metal by the spiked wheelbarrow load. Get your tetanus shots before spinning Nothing But Nothing because there’s plenty of jagged, gnarly riffs to lock your jaw wide open in wonder. Looking like Spinal Tap and sounding like Di’Anno era Maiden, these boys have packed their bong with a heavy strain of metal, stoner rock and prog and forged a record that will make you want to drag race your carpeted van up the rainbow bridge and straight into Valhalla. It’s been ten years since we last heard from Danava. Where have they been and why did it take so long for them to deliver the goods? I honestly have no idea.

Like a nunchaku to the loins, the title track kicks off the proceedings with frantic riffage and blasting drum rolls. The guitar harmonies sizzle like a pan full of thick-cut bacon and the acrobatics never let up until the last chorus is sung. Track number two, “Let The Good Times Kill,” grabs you by the denim lapels like a schoolyard bully and makes it painfully clear that the beating you’re receiving is for your own good. The bluesy riffs fly out like a Mountain LP played at 45 RPMs and the musicianship remains tight all the way through.

It’s nothing short of astounding how effortlessly Danava blends a multitude of influences. The homages fly by in rapid fire. Combining the psychedelic haze of Hawkwind, the punky/prog stylings of early Maiden and Scorpions and the hard rocking sensibilities of Thin Lizzy and UFO, Danava forges a retro metal sound that feels equally at home in 1981 and 2023. I’ve reviewed a fair share of retro-type acts and Danava is the first one that seems to get it. They’ve achieved the impossible task of sounding both relevant and nostalgic at the same time. “Enchanted Villain,” arguably the best track on the record, is the perfect example. Somehow it manages to sound like “Rime of The Ancient Mariner,” “Holy Diver” and “Heaven and Hell” all at the same time while comfortably existing as a beautiful thing unto itself. The Prism-infused keyboard solo at the three-minute mark removes any doubt that Danava are in full control of the musical Frankenstein they’ve created.

Nothing But Nothing offers a nonstop musical tour de force. The guitar work is both frantic and accomplished. Twin lead players Gregory Meleney and Peter Hughes combine the virtuosity of classically trained players with the leather and fury of punk and thrash. The two relentlessly swap licks and solos like a young Murry and Smith until things wind down on the closing Slovakian ballad, “Čas.” The solo section of the title track is a prime example of them wailing back and forth like two screaming banshees. Meleney also handles the synth work which takes some of the syrupiest keyboard sounds of the seventies and pours them over a steaming stack of musical flapjacks to make them sound cool again. The curiously titled “Nuthin But Nuthin” is a synth-driven steamroller that could easily be on the soundtrack to Logan’s Run or the latest PS5 game. Not to be overlooked, the rhythm section has plenty of chops of their own. Bassist Dominic Casciato lays down plenty of chunky grooves that both stand out and bolster the guitar work. Drummer Matthew Oliver somehow manages to keep everyone on time and together while setting a near-impossible pace.

This album has punched all the right buttons for me, but I wonder about its staying power. There’s a homogeny to things that may lose its luster over time. While there aren’t any clunkers per se, the less memorable “At Midnight You Die” and repetitive “Strange Killer” are easy to skip over. Many of the songs also lack the anthemic quality that makes this type of meat and potatoes rock stick to your ribs. Still, Danava have created their strongest record to date and shown that the NWoTHM1 has plenty of potential yet untapped. Metal heads from all backgrounds should find something here to like if not love.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: Tee Pee Records
Website: instagram.com/danavaband
Releases Worldwide: April 28th, 2023

Show 1 footnote

  1. New wave of throwback heavy metal.
« »