Album Review: The Callous Daoboys — “Celebrity Therapist”

The Callous Daoboys have a lot going for them right now, but if they only had one thing going for them it’s that they are championing amplifying the weird and experimental in mathcore, a genre that really didn’t have a lot of help with the weird and experimental.  Wildly creative, massively heavy with the catchiest pop sensibilities this side of the radio, and truly unique, it would be really unfair to call them “fledgelings” despite the fact that Celebrity Therapist is only their second full length.  However, if you don’t know by now, it’s about damn time to start knowing.

2019’s Die on Mars saw the Atlanta, Georgia, septet almost immediately skyrocket to the tip of the proverbial tongue.  Free-spirited, unafraid to push boundaries and meld crushingly heavy breakdowns with frenetic fretboard antics and catchy pop hooks, Die on Mars swung pretty heavily in between the extreme ends of the musical spectrum, all backing up whip-smart lyrics that reveled in a little bit of self-deprecation and a lot of attitude.  A signature of the band’s sound is also the interplay of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and violin to back up vocalist Carson Pace; perhaps an unconventional combination, but one that the band has made work extremely well in their favor, especially when it comes to Celebrity Therapist.  “This record is the result of our most emotional process to date, and every member threw their life into its creation,” says Pace.  Immediately, the album is noticeably heavier than Die on Mars, but also simultaneously more and less focused.  The mathcore elements are still at the forefront of the band’s sound, but the pop passages have been ratcheted up quite a few notches and the band even incorporates elements of jazz and post-rock.  What that spells is tight focus when there needs to be, and a free-for-all of aggression and chaos when applicable.  Lyrically, Pace says of the album, “It’s two steps forward and three steps back with a bunch of people in my life. The album is me reflecting on these people but realizing I’m guilty of the same at the end of the record.”

With that many instruments playing at once and that much going on all the time, you might think Celebrity Therapist is a mess to listen to.  You’re wrong about that, but it is a lot to take in all at once.  However, the best thing the Daoboys have going for them is that they make sure that everything they use is heard.  The violin doesn’t get drowned out by the guitars, there is a ton of great bass work on this album thanks to Jackie Buckalew, the keys come through over the drums, and when everything needs to drop back to let Pace’s subtly radio-friendly croon shine, it does.  There is something almost theatrical to the performances on Celebrity Therapist that makes it feel much grander than the average odd-time-signature chaotic romp; something about that makes these pieces feel much more deliberate and well-thought-out than ever before.  However, the heaviness of the album is what immediately strikes me.  This thing is massive and brutal in all the right ways, and tracks like “A Brief Article Regarding Time Loops” and “Violent Astrology” rip through your ears with an energy that not a lot of bands are matching these days.  And, of course, there is plenty of weird to be found, but it isn’t weird for weird’s sake; every moment and motif works in tandem with another, which further serves to pull you into the album.

What we’re seeing right now is a band that is hitting their stride, and that stride is going to take them a long way.  Every facet that the Daoboys show shines with precision, and the overall effect is that Celebrity Therapist is a new benchmark for experimental music without sacrificing what makes these songs surprisingly catchy and memorable.  It’s truly the Rawring 20’s, y’all.  

– Ian

Celebrity Therapist will be September 2 on MNRK Heavy.  For more information on The Callous Daoboys, visit their Facebook page.

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