Down I Go – ‘Mortals’ EP *Pre-order*.
Artwork credit – Elliott Elam.
Down I Go are a band that (as numerous other reviews of their work will tell you) gleefully defy attempts at catagorisation, and with good reason – their back catalogue is a diverse and some might say challenging affair, incorporating some of the most uncompromisingly twisted and heavy elements from experimental Hardcore and Noise Rock. What sets them apart, however, are the ways in which they offset these heavy elements with the unexpected, the experimental, the sublime and on occasion, the ridiculous. It’s fair to say that I am a paid up fan of the band’s output thus far, so with that caveat in mind, I’ll do my best to provide some objective background on their newest release: Mortals.
With each new record to date the band have run with a different lyrical theme, from the velociraptor squeals of their pterrarific (sorry) 2006 debut This is Dinocore, through to 2008’s bombastic, dictator focused Tyrant and most recently 2015’s Icelandic folklore influenced You’re Lucky God That I Cannot Reach You. Their latest release is no exception to this rule – acting as something of a thematic counterpart to 2011’s Gods EP, each of Mortals’ 4 tracks centers on a character from Greek myth; ‘Psyche’, ‘Palaemon’, ‘Pandora’, and ‘Heracles’.
Musically, Mortals feels more streamlined and slick than previous releases, with an unrelenting guitar focused approach to the record’s sound as a whole and less in the way of orchestration, although there are some subtle touches of saxophone (the end of ‘Palaemon’ features a unique sax arrangement that seems to have a modern classical music influence) and a snippet of piano (leading into a particularly nice section of ‘Heracles’). In place of the broader instrumentation from prior releases, the band have instead gone above and beyond with the vocal arrangements – clean vocals are far more prominent than ever before and each track benefits from carefully arranged and musically adventurous harmonies, balanced with vocalist/arranger Pete Fraser’s distinctive and raw screaming.
The songs are cleverly structured, with riffs and timings that seem to evolve as the tracks unfold in such a way that it may take a few listens to really unravel what is happening, but without the tracks feeling off kilter as a result. Alan Booth’s guitar work provides sleaze and heft with warped, complex riffs delivered in a style that is very much his own, while drummer/producer Ben Standage provides just the right kind of powerful, solid drumming to anchor the tracks as well as being the studio wizard who engineers and produces the band’s recordings (along with many others – check out his recording blog here).
Down I Go have been forced to work around the fact that they have been geographically split between Sweden, Canada and America since 2011 (the band convened in Iceland for a week specifically to write previous release You’re Lucky God…), however working in this disparate manner on Mortals doesn’t appear to have had any adverse impact on the usual high quality of their songs, which are exciting, unpredictable and have a depth to them that will reward repeat listening. Also notable is the production – Mortals sounds clear, heavy, alive and perhaps most importantly, despite being a studio band for some years, Down I Go still don’t sound anything like Steely Dan.
Mortals is currently available for pre-order via bandcamp and will be released independently on 14/08/17.
Find out more about Down I Go here: