Today Is The Day “Pain Is A Warning”
I first got into Today Is The Day in 2000 when a band I was working with at the time recommended I check out TITD’s 1997 album “Temple Of The Morning Star”. At the time, I was just starting to dip my toes into the realms of “extreme” metal and wasn’t sure what to expect when I popped the CD in the player for the first time. TITD’s sound is easy and not easy to describe at the same time. It is an insane mixture of grindcore and alternative and progressive rock with absolutely menacing vocals that literally seethe with hatred, despair and agony. Since those first few listens to “Temple Of The Morning Star”, I’ve been a huge fan of TITD (same band also introduced me to Converge via the astoundingly good “Jane Doe” album for which I also owe them a million thanks). “Temple Of The Morning Star” (their fourth album overall) will always be my favorite TITD record, but the albums they’ve released since have all been varying degrees of good, albeit a bit challenging at points (the double album “Sadness Will Prevail” is an emotionally taxing listen…whether it is rewarding or not really depends on the individual listener). Through all these albums, TITD mainman, vocalist and axe slinger Steve Austin has steered the ship with rotating rhythm sections to support him (fun fact, Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher and drummer Brann Dailor played bass and drums respectively on the “In The Eyes Of God” album). The last studio album “Axis Of Eden” was a nice blend of their more aggressive style and their more haunting, eerie moments, but “Pain Is A Warning” does not continue on that path. I’d read some early reviews on metal websites saying that Austin had incorporated cock rock into the band’s sound and while that may be true for a few tracks, it is a bit of a stretch to say that the band’s sound has completely changed (the reviews reminded me of how all the critics said that The Killer’s second album “Sam’s Town” sounded exactly like Bruce Springsteen which was of course total poppycock). “Pain Is A Warning” certainly has some moments where TITD grooves a lot more than they ever have in the past and as part of the overall vibe of the album, it works tremendously. This is an enjoyable (in the extreme metal sense of the term) and dare I say, fun listen. Arguably their best effort since “Temple Of The Morning Star”. Bravo Mr. Austin.
Grade: A
White Arms Of Athena “Astrodrama”
Comparing one band to another in record reviews feels like cheating, but in some cases it truly is the best way to provide a frame of reference. With White Arms Of Athena, this would be one of those cases. Much like Chevelle’s excellent “Wonder What’s Next” album is often accurately described as “Tool Light”, White Arms Of Athena’s “Astrodrama” could accurately be called “Between The Buried And Me Light” (Jamie King who produced the last couple of BTBAM albums helms the boards for this release). The songs are shorter and less complex than BTBAM, but nonetheless thoroughly enjoyable. They seem to prefer the more spacey, proggy moments and there is less of the extreme metal freakouts employed by BTBAM, but otherwise the similarities are overwhelming. When one band so closely mirrors the style of an artist they admire (I’m assuming White Arms Of Athena are BTBAM fans), the results go one of three ways: a) disastrous b) *shrugs shoulders* or c) successful. Fortunately for White Arms Of Athena, they have hit on choice c) successful. I’ll be curious to see how the band develops over time and if they step out and start to develop a style more their own, which for their sake, I really hope they do.
Grade: B

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