First of all, that’s a pretty cool name. The Dali Thundering Concept. Cool enough that it made me spend a couple of hours on the InterGoogle in an effort to discern its origins, but to no avail. Oh well. Here’s what I like about this French band: their music is a mish-mash of styles, including prog, deathcore, djent, and jazz. Aside from the –coreness, I’m up for it. What I don’t like, though, is the concept of Savages. Yes, another concept album, and yes, about a dystopian future. That phrase will be the death of me. This particular dystopian future is what the world will look like if we continue down the path we’re currently on, so not really much of a stretch. Anyhow, on this second album from TDTC, can they pull off their range of styles, and can I get past the concept?
They certainly start things off on the right foot. “Ostrich Dynasty” opens with a percussive clatter and foreboding guitars until drums and hardcore vocals blast in. The staccato riffing and mathy drums are exactly the style expected, and I can overlook the silly vocals as the song moves through jazz-tinged interludes, blast beats, and some Animals as Leaders-influenced solos. A damned good start, followed by more engaging stuff in “The Myth of Happiness” and “Blessed with Boredom,” both songs that push some boundaries, mixing in jazz, some beautiful atmospherics, and Dillinger Escape Plan insanity with the more -core aspects of TDTC’s makeup. My favorite cut is “Cassandra,” with a goofy synthesized childlike voice talking over a keyboard intro. “And today, the whole world will blow up. And why? Because of too much power!” The song is an indulgence in electronica, with blips and waves and a hypnotic beat. We need more of this adventurousness, and “Cassandra” is an idea that could have been built on and extrapolated into a fantastic long cut. At three and a half minutes, it just brings us in and then cuts right into the back half of the album.
And that’s when things start to get tiresome. The sameness of the djentcore style and the vocals begin to wear thin, with every song featuring one-dimensional shouts and calculus-like, repetitive precision to an annoying degree. “Ink” briefly features the subsonic growl of Oceano’s Adam Warren, which despite being far from my favorite style is a welcome relief from vocalist Sylvain Conier’s incessant shouts. More diversity in the vocals is sorely needed. Why are some bands willing and eager to embrace musical diversity – jazz, electronica, death, prog in this case – but refuse to vary their vocal delivery at all? “Demeter” does break things up nicely, with its dissonant jazzy interplay – even muted trumpet – and soulful female lead vocal, but The Dali Thundering Concept prove early on in Savages that they’ve got versatility to go with the chops. Deathcore and djent will only take you so far. More changeups, please.
Luckily, Savages is a great-sounding record, perfectly mixed for the style with loads of aggression. The band’s rhythm section is a clinic in precision, of course, and the guitarwork shines. The monotony of a number of the songs pervades the overall sensation of the album, but the moments of variance are worth it. Savages feels front-loaded, with the more adventurous cuts dominating early, and the back half of the album mired in sameness.
When The Dali Thundering Concept are pushing their limits, such as on the first few opening tracks, “Cassandra,” and “Demeter,” they deliver engrossing material that makes me listen closely over and over. That must be the “Dali” part of their name. The “Thundering” part is the rest of Savages, a barrage of proggy djentcore that all blends together into what over time becomes an annoying wash of hardcore vocals and intricate but chuggy and unvarying musical passages. The potential is there for TDTC to give us something special: they just need to be willing to let their inner weirdness shine through a bit more.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Apathia Records
Websites: thedalithunderingconcept.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/thedalithunderingconcept
Releases Worldwide: April 13th, 2018