Of all the bands I like that my wife does not, Today Is The Day may be her least favorite. She will grudgingly acquiesce when I rail about how talented and intricate the playing is, but when it comes to the vocals – lady just can’t hang.
While for the sake of sanity and marriage I will write “I can’t entirely blame her, since Steve Austin‘s near-falsetto screaming can be a little harsh” but we all know the real deal, Neil. This band is ridiculously good.
But in an evenhanded attempt to save my marriage, there are plenty of musical acts one partner (or more: inclusiveness shall set you free!) in a relationship can enjoy that the other cannot, for reasons that are their own to explore. This merely means one partner will go to shows alone or with other friends rather than dragging their other(s) along for the ride. On certain occasions this can be risked, presuming the band or bands involved have something special in their live repertoire that might appeal to the reluctant partner. But ultimately, dragging people along for a ride they are not going to enjoy is a super-duper jerkmove, an act of selfish villainy and utterly incomprehensible to anyone who thinks in terms of long-term strategy.
At the beginning of a relationship, people will go out of their way for someone. If that means putting up with a mixtape that has a dozen bad songs on it, so be it – you listen to it anyway because it was a labor of love and an object of devotion. Also, you don’t know any better at this point and you still believe you can “fix” what’s wrong with their musical tastes. This is half true – you can modify someone’s existing tastes by laying out a cobblestone path of singles, carefully selected mixes and maybe just by leaving records around the house. At the very least people have to learn to get along with each other’s least favorites, and with a little common courtesy these problems can be avoided. This unwasted time can then be spent not on quibbling artistic differences but instead focused on the crushing loneliness and psychotic behavioral problems that will be inflicted on each other day in and day out until one of you wises up and ends the misery.
And now for some actual music review content:
Today Is the Day flounders about on the virtuoso/prog/angry metal side of things like a floppy fish made out of genius. The first time I heard In the Eyes of God I had thought someone was wrong with the recording. The drums and guitars were more or less perfectly mixed, but the vocals sounded like a cartoon character having a panic attack. I realize that some people might high-five at this description but at the time I was not really having it. I stuck them on the back burner for a few months, only picking up this album and 2004’s Kiss the Pig from a local record shop on a whim. (To be sure, there are fewer pleasures than a lazy, drunken Friday afternoon spent record shopping.)
Like many things in my life, I found that my initial impression was wrong and I had slept hard on the wrong cold ground. The phasey, angry cartoon screaming was the glue that held everything else together, switching between a distant falsetto (faux-setto?) and a distorted snarl. Sometimes each style is layered upon each other with some actual singing in the middle for this strange backing-band effect that’s surprisingly engaging.
At 50 minutes long, 1999’s In the Eyes of God bounces around a few different styles and moods, but my favorite is easily “Argali” because of the way it bounces from a slow acoustic burn to a grindy finale in just over two minutes. To this day I have never bothered to look at the lyrics because I just don’t want to depreciate my appreciation. Hell, most of the album is sort of like that – strange introductions, quick changes, expert playing, screaming – and 60 to 120 seconds later, we’re done. Mr. Austin is a bit of a recording whiz, so the album as a whole fits together very well; almost too well, since there’s a number of pieces similar in tone that feel like they were part of the same session.
I sincerely appreciate the dirge metal mini-anthem “Martial Law” and the oddly harmonized “Honor” – imagine someone shouting in a wind tunnel through one of those little metal cans with a string on them you’d make as kids – for their smeared and foggy tones.
However, if one were going to push this on, say, a partner or significantly significant other, fast forward to “There Is No End” – the screamy metal they hate is cut off after four minutes by what sounds like a terrible dream sequence – AmerIndian chanting and weird synth drones and pulses that comes together in an angry finish – from a late night movie soundtrack. (Think direct to video circa 1989.)
At the very least they’ll say “well, that’s different” before walking away.