By Daniel Anderson
A key factor to a successful artist is their ability to hone their skills. It is a gradual process for sure; changes will inevitably occur in one’s work. But so long as that change can be managed and controlled, then they can still sound as good as ever.
Such has been the case for the Rhode Island-based noise rock group, Daughters.
This band first built their sound off of grindcore music. For their first two releases, Daughters did not exactly become the biggest band in the world (after all, grindcore is a genre that makes an art form out of songs that can be less than 10 seconds).
But somewhere along the way, something about the band changed. With the release of their self-titled album in 2010, Daughters abandoned their extreme, Dillinger-Escape-Plan-esque style. Instead, the sound which they embarked on leaned closer to a much more industrial vibe, while still maintaining the savagery and abrasiveness of their prior work.
For a long while, that album was considered to be the band’s swansong, as they were not heard from for years on end. But that all changed in 2015, when the band announced online that they would be making new music.
Fast-forward to 2018, and the band released the teaser tracks “Satan in the Wait,” “The Reason They Hate Me” and “Long Road, No Turns” for their newest release. All three of these tracks provided a chilling example of what was to come (the term chilling would probably be an understatement, really).
That level of uneasiness coming from those three tracks would only intensify with the long-awaited release of their comeback, You Won’t Get What You Want.
The title was well applied, as it insinuated what was to come.
Right from the get-go with the first track “City Song,” the listener is greeted with a horrifying presence. The drums open so randomly and so deafeningly in this track that it comes off a lot like a jumpscare — and it works just as effectively as well.
As the thunderous instrumentals drone on for a good portion of the track, somewhere around the four-and-a-half minute mark, they implode into a shrieking nightmare made sound. It should also be worth mentioning that Alexis Marshall’s almost spoken-word vocals combined with the sounds of him seemingly having a nervous breakdown in the background make this track even more manic and horrendous.
That was just the first track on this escapade and already this album can make even the most adventurous of listeners quiver in fear.
The ride only goes downhill from here.
Almost every track following seems to follow some sort of template, in fact one might even bear able to tell based on the song’s length. The fourth and fifth tracks, “The Flammable Man” and “The Lords Song,” both travel at blistering tempos and are the shortest tracks on the album. `
That still does not undermine the terror that these tracks bring. The crushing drums and guitars which almost sound synthesized both combine on these tracks to make the listener quake in their boots.
Although these tracks are still raw and untamed, “The Lords Song” does hinder the pacing of this album by a little bit. This is due to its placing after the “The Flammable Man.” If it came after a track longer than itself, such as the seventh track, “Daughter,” then perhaps the track would appear a bit more forceful than it already is.
Given the majority of Daughters’ discography, one might think that these shorter tracks are the ones that the band would fancy the most on the album. But, strangely enough, the biggest highlights of this project are the much longer tracks.
Now that more time is given to the band to focus on expanding their sonic boundaries, they have since crafted some of the most harrowing listening experiences of the past few years.
Tracks such as the previously mentioned second track, “Long Road, No Turns,” and the monstrous ninth track, “Ocean Song,” not only help give the album some weight in its tracklist, but are each as spine-shivering as the track before them.
“Ocean Song” in particular may just be the most defining track on the album. Lyrically, it paints an unhinged image of a man named Paul who returns home and is struck by a sense of unreasonable fear, causing him to run away. All the while he feels as if there will inevitably be something that catch up and grab him by the shoulder, “Knocking over trash as he makes his way/Sprinting like some wild animal/A blur beneath the streetlamps/Overhead, a terror-scream.”
Once again, the instrumental work on this track still makes the listener feel as if several needles are slowly, agonizingly piercing them from all sides and directions. It kind of feels like the album in a nutshell: a sense of overwhelming yet unexplainable fear grasping for the listener ever so frequently.
However, none of the other tracks have balanced the sheer malevolence of this album with just the slightest tinge of serenity quite as well as the lead single to this album, “Satan in the Wait.”
The track still welcomes the listener with as much paranoia as they would expect. The driving force of the drums gives off the feeling of some monstrous beast stomping ever nearer. It does not help that what’s delivered through Alexis’ crazed vocals mixes seamlessly with lyrics that resemble the inner ramblings of a madman, “Some faces not even a mother can love.”/ Says the spit and spatter of broken glass from above/ “There’s a tombstone where your headboard used to be.”/ They tell him every night before sleep.”
Even throughout the lunacy, there is still a well placed and, one would dare say, serene instrumental interlude during the chorus. It is this fill that provides comfort (or lack thereof) to the listener during such a demented experience.
But for the listener, it all changes during the final section of the track, when the instrumental that once provided them a shimmer of light during the chorus turn completely south, becoming part of the horrific experience that looms over the experience of the album.
What was once an illusion of serenity has now shown itself to be a hideous murder scene.
And that’s what makes this such an unforgiving experience. The album is like a stalking killer: no matter the efforts, there is nothing that the listener can do against the sheer force that this album brings.
Even during the sixth and seventh tracks, the “slowest” points on the album, “Less Sex” and “Daughter,” there is a bigger feeling of uneasiness and paranoia than most of the other tracks.
Yet, after all that, the album will not let up its animalistic nature. The final track, “Guest House,” goes full-throttle on the ears. Every bit in the instrumental with its panicking drums and guitars make the whole track sound like an alarm signifying the end of the world. It is as if some violent creature has escaped its prison, and has set out on a merciless rampage.
At this point, Alexis’ vocals have reached peak hysteria. On this track in particular, the lyrics he flat-out yells in this track go along perfectly with its desperation, especially with the repeated “let me in!” mantra.
This album, in its entirety, is the perfect recipe to make the listener uneasy. The insane and frantic vibe that it gives with its haunting instrumentals and yelping vocals make this perhaps the most electrifying audio experience this year; like a David Byrne album from hell.
While it is not as weird or experimental as something like Death Grips’ Year of the Snitch, it still should be noted that casual listeners would probably not be fond of sitting on the edge of their seats.
Even still, those looking for a challenge with their listening experience will surely suffice. With this album, the band has reached a milestone in the evolution of their soundscape. Daughters fulfilled the title of their latest release, they didn’t give what the fans wanted. But what they did give was more riveting than what they could have ever imagined.
Favorite Track: “Satan in the Wait”
Least Favorite Track: “The Lords Song”