Today is the Day – Animal Mother (Southern Lord Records, 14 October 2014)
Quite a while ago — way back at the beginning of 2014 — we shared some news about a new Today is the Day album, but then somehow totally dropped the ball on actually writing about the album itself once it came out later that year. But now seems like a good time to rectify that: this week the band has kicked off a North American tour to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the landmark album Temple of the Morning Star (and a whole slew of dates have been added for this fall as well), plus there’s a brand-new documentary called The Man Who Loves to Hurt Himself which recently had its world premiere and should soon be made available aux masses.
So you can find information about all that stuff if you scroll down into the comments section. But first, a look at that 2014 album, Animal Mother.
According to a contemporaneous interview with Invisible Oranges, a lot of this album stems from Austin reacting to his own mother’s death — and as a result, the powerfully melancholy feeling that has always pervaded the band’s music in a depressive, inner-turmoil kind of way, is now being expressed in a somewhat more external sense, focusing on interpersonal relationships among family and friends. This fits with the seemingly ‘maternal’ (or ‘parental’) viewpoint being presented in the lyrical content, particularly in the angrier harsh yelling in some of the album’s more aggressive tracks, such as “Discipline,” “Sick of Your Mouth,” “Masada,” and “Imperfection” with its somewhat awkward drum rhythms.
In that preview article three and a half years ago, I referred to the band as “The brainchild of vocalist/guitarist Steve Austin, plus whomever he happens to be surrounding himself with at a particular moment,” going on to state that “this project has continually evolved over the years, but whether the medium is harsh noise, violent grindcore outbursts, or lengthy ambient post-metal soundscapes, one constant has always been that Today is the Day communicates pure, raw emotion and pain.” All of this remains true on Animal Mother: raw emotion and pain are delivered in abundance, while incorporating all of the styles already mentioned — the signature blend of entropy and chaos with abruptly shifting personalities emerges here on tracks such as “Law of the Universe,” “Heathen,” and especially the penultimate “Outlaw” filled with dissonance, onerous sounds and venomous vocals.
However, the group’s ever-changing parlance has produced another facet throughout this record, as well — something almost akin to a Deftones sound: the title track comes complete with a synthetic-industrial-almost gothic vibe, and a warbly-underwater-type effect on vocals that are often whispered, or otherwise soft and vulnerable. This vocal style repeats in the penultimate track of the album’s first half, which is an acoustic version of “Outlaw” (and could easily have been lifted straight from White Pony); and later in “Mystic,” and closing track “Bloodwood” with its more lush orchestration (almost like the hidden bonus track from Purple).
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