La Dispute – Rooms of the House (2014)

La Dispute album

 

When I first heard “Such Small Hands” by the band La Dispute back in 2010, I was blown away by the eclectic blend of poetry-grade lyrics, their relatively heavy sound, and the emotionally-driven style of lead singer Jordan Dreyer’s vocals. That song and the rest of the album “Somewhere at the Bottom of the River between Vega and Altair”  are my favorite releases by the band. Now, the quintet from Grand Rapids, Michigan, is back with another full-length album. Released March of this year, “Rooms of the House” sufficiently separates the band from their first full-length release with a cleaner, more mature sound.

 
If you’re anything like me, you’re sad to see the sounds of “Somewhere at the Bottom” fade away. But the changes were evident even in the band’s second release “Wildlife”, which in my opinion, is a solid middle ground between the band’s first album and this latest one. Change, however, isn’t something to fear as La Dispute’s roots and defining characteristics are still there. The vocals are still emotional and passionate and they still have their critically acclaimed “un-categorizable sound” that fuses many influences of different heavier genres and even outside styles like blues and jazz on previous albums, along with their tension-building compositions–a La Dispute staple.

 

 

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While many that have already reviewed the album call it “mature”, I say that it is in fact just much more simple than their previous releases. More than in Wildlife, Rooms of the House loses some of the lucid symbolism that I thought was their best feature from Somewhere at the Bottom. Instead, the band replaces this with more straightforward emotional feedback and sheds its literary symbolism. Still, Dreyer is an excellent writer and this shows within the band’s lyrics as they compose songs with imagery and narrative, which can be seen clearly in the album’s opening song “Hudsonville, MI 1956” and another song titled “35” which also exhibits Dreyer’s spoken word style (dominant in the songs “Woman (in Mirror)” and “Objects in Space” too.) My personal favorites of the album are standouts “Mayor of Splitsville” and “Stay Happy Here” which is one of the album’s singles. It seems that, more in this album, the band unfortunately scaled back their out-wright heart wrenching preferences like in their past songs “King Park” and “Andria.”

 
Except for some songs like “Woman (in mirror)” and “Objects in Space”, the songs on this album are structured around a basic crescendo as most songs by La Dispute are. Listeners become familiar with the areas where tension builds by following the vocals and the band as they lead up to culminate in some emotional outburst—sort of like a pattern of calms before a strong storm—rather than relying on verse/chorus structures. On this album, there aren’t many gaudy riffs, that has never seemed to be the intention of the band on any of their albums anyway. The riffs and melodies in their songs always seem mainly foundational especially in this latest album where the band seems to take a more simplistic style. They rely more on strong rhythmic variations to capture their audience. There isn’t anything flashy to cling onto. Just pure and strong instrumental use and deep, emotional lyrics.

 
Even though it’s not the Somewhere at the Bottom of the River follow-up that I wished for over these last 4 years, Rooms of the House is still a great album that simply shows the evolving style of a very talented band that never disappoints.

 

 

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La Dispute on Facebook

La Dispute on BandCamp

– Alli G.

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Dead Church/Faction Disaster (2013)

DCFD-COVER

Grindcore, to me, is like a paratha roll. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s something we eat here in Pakistan that’s basically just a circular bread thing that’s filled up with meat, vegetables, mayonaise, ketchup and whatever the fuck you can get your hands on. It looks easy to make, but not everyone can do it right. Sometimes it fucking rules and it’s all you wanna eat. Other times, people tend to fuck it up so bad that you wish the shit never existed. But at the end of the day, all you really need is a paratha roll. Grindcore is pretty much the same, for me. Just replace the food references with the music ones. Now, Mannequin Rein is a budding new record label from Michigan, specializing in Grindcore, Powerviolence, Sludge, Doom and everything that fits the “noisy and abrassive” tag. This split is the 21st release on their roster, having put out a bunch of other crushing splits already. Both bands on this delightfully vile split release are armed to the teeth with some raw, heavy and nasty production that grindfreaks and paratha roll lovers like me love to sink their teeth into. But other than the obvious similarities, they represent two contrasting ends of the genre.

Dead Church

Side A of this split belongs to the Michigan Grindcore/Powerviolence band Dead Church. You could call them Death/Grind as well but the punky spontaneous nature of the music, coupled with a vocal attack that owes more to the HC side of things rather than Death Metal, makes me put them in the same bracket as Infest, Weekend Nachos, Benumb or Spazz. Dead Church don’t hesitate to pull all the stops here, spitting out all their venomous rage right off the bat. These lads know exactly what to do with their music, with all the tracks being tight and feeling like actual songs rather than a bunch of riffs haphazardly joined together with the rhythm section just doing their thing. Dead Church clearly aren’t in for that sort of ill-disciplined stuff, and they focus first and foremost on the almighty power of the riff to make people go apeshit. For less than four minutes they assault you with some grind that’s energetic and catchy as fuck; you’d be hard pressed to stop yourself from moshing especially to the massive breakdown in “At War” or singing (read: shouting) along to “Victims of Praise.” Me, personally, I had to divide my time between couch-moshing and writing this review. Excellent material, not a bad riff or a bad vocal line here.

Faction Disaster

Side B amps up the death metal influences with Faction Disaster, who come out bursting through the gates with a straight up crushing riff-based and guttural vocal-led death/grind assault that brings to mind Mortician and Machetazo in terms of the guitar work, but with a far more comic and random approach to the overall package, that makes me harken back to the likes of Charles Bronson (the band of course!). The song titles (Take “Commander Cody’s Dreads” for example) amplify their humorous approach and put them in contrast with the grim seriousness of Dead Church, but that’s not really a problem, just an interesting contrast. Another contrast is that the songwriting itself comes off as a bit goofy compared to the deadly precision of Side A, but it’s not an actual problem if the riffs are so fucking good. In fact the only problem with their side of the split is that it ends a bit too soon. One more grinding thrashing microsong would’ve been perfect. But hey.. “Moustache.”

Heavy, raw, crazy. Overall rating 8/10, one of the better splits put out this year definitely. Kicks you straight in the nuts and leaves you beggin’ for more. Or if I was to bring another paratha roll reference; gives you indigestion but still makes you wanna gobble down some more. I highly recommend you buy this. Check the details and links below.

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Mannequin Rein Recordings

Dead Church

Faction Disaster

– Hassan Dozakhi