Chuck Schuldiner Project

Friday, July 8, 2011

Days of Tomorrow

     For anyone who cares about the various shades of boring that have generally comprised my summer, I've pretty much had absolutely nothing that I really do for "fun" this summer other than music and hanging out with some friends. Given that my patience with learning an instrument is about nil, I just listen to a lot of music. Presumable, my ears begin to hurt after enough consecutive days of listening to music for 6+ hour marathons. This is one of those days. Incidentally my one friend cancelled on me because he needs to go to his sister's soccer game after I "called in sick" to the thread. Back to UG. I'm awaiting a response from The Archaist in response to a question I had about their recordings. I'll do a double post today depending on the response I get from them.

     Earlier I had mentioned that I am dealing with some ear fatigue / pain at the moment. Logically, I'm going with something a bit softer and easier on the ears for this review in the hopes that the pain will clear up before I start trying to review a metal band. Days of Tomorrow doesn't totally shake the metal schtick, playing on elements of heavy metal and hard rock with their particular style of alt rock, while still maintaining an easy to listen to, soft on the ears, sound.

     As I said above, Days of Tomorrow is alt rock with strong heavy metal and hard rock influences. The only problem with this descriptor is the number of bands who can be labeled as such, Wolfmother, The Arctic Monkeys, and even Nickelback (I'm gonna take some flak for mentioning that name in this context). I'm going to bounce off of something another reviewer said with Braden Harris's (another amateur reviewer lurking around the UG threads) comment about Days of Tomorrow sounding like Kings of Leon. I agree, the songs "Hey Dude!" and "Ode to Humanity" are the two "worst offenders" if your the type who believes any semblance to another band shows a lack of creativity. The other three songs kick some of these influences to up the hard rock and metal influences. Its the final two songs, however, "Delirium" and "A World to Find" that really speak to the metalhead in me. "Delirium" sounds like The White Stripes foray into industrial metal, throughout the charmingly lo-fi and unstable vocals to the short, choppy, funky cuts on the guitar to the effectively simplistic drums rhythms. My only issue with the song is that the bridge uses too many arpeggios for its own good. "A World to Find", quite probably to the chagrin of most of our readers, more specifically speaks to the "Linkin Park Metalhead" (if there ever was such a thing) in me. What sets Days of Tomorrow apart from as commercialized and annoying a band as Linkin Park is that they play into the Linkin Park that you hear on "A place for my Head" with less whiny vocals and more technical guitar work. Add in verses that bear the same alt rock sound as "Ode to Humanity" and "Carpe Diem", to the short and sweet, downtuned choruses with they're expansive, "long" vocals and you've got "A World to Find".

     The first two songs on the album are laid back, casual songs that embody the other reviewer's description for Days of Tomorrow. Nonetheless, my remarks on the song "Delirium's" similarities to The White Stripes hold true for these song too. Unfortunately, none of the licks touch The White Stripes mark for fun or creativity in this regard, then again, its not exactly fair to pit any band except The White Stripes against The White Stripes, let alone criticize them for not matching up. I think The White Stripes is the only band that produces albums that Matt and I can both listen to and call "perfect". I've been dodging the topic of "Ode to Humanity" for some time now. Shocker, it's the low point on the album with the weakest vocals, the second weakest job on recording, and the least lively and thoughtful riffs. Its been loaded up with airy Modest Mouse like noodling on the guitar (not technically noodling, I know, but you get the idea) and processed in the same way as said band. There's nothing bad about it, but it isn't as inspired and gripping as any of the other songs are.

     I'll take a detour here and put in a brief word regarding Days of Tomorrow on a more skill based, rather than creativity based, level. As a whole, the band seems to be fairly talented with their instruments without any glaring flaws. The vocalist seems to trade off some vocal control and some aspects to his tone overall to get a benefit in their absence, that is, a sort of charm, and a sort of emotion. Whether this is genuine emotion or not is up for debate, but nothing about his tone comes across as "gimmicky" like a lot of stupid scenster bands. The drums seem to be largely devoid of showiness or flashiness, they sit in the background, and they keep pace, they're matte. The drummer compensates for the lack of flashy fills by using more technically complex beats, but the effect isn't quite enough. The guitarist sounds a lot like this too, consistently playing more advanced riffs and hooks than your run of the mill alt rock band, at the expense of coming too close to the flashiest points in the five song set too often. This reduces the contrast between the highs and lows of the song, leaving an overall impression of "alright". Surprisingly, this leaves the only instrument left, the bass, to be the pinnacle of musical ability in this four piece alt rock outfit. Days of Tomorrow's bassist provides a steady, strong platform for the rest of the band, and in many ways is what permits them to shine on songs like "Delirium" and "Carpe Diem" which, incidentally, is where they shine the most.

     Now If you'll pardon the fact that I reviewed each individual song, a process which I've been told just wastes my time in the interest of putting unnecessary minutia down for people to read, I can get around to the sound quality part of the review. Now I don't know what exactly to make of what happened to the sound quality, because I upgraded to a nicer sound card some time ago shortly after I heard Days of Tomorrow for the first time. My memory of the sound was that it sounded as if someone had applied a dynamic range compression filter. Essentially what this does, is it minimizes the maximum change in volume that a sound file can generate, this is usually applied using an A/V receiver so you don't wake anyone up with large volume fluctuations. This is also useful for people who fall asleep in front of the tv, large volume fluctuations can impact your quality of sleep. This however, is not a good thing on musical recordings, where this filter can make things sound really unnatural. Whereas originally, the singer's voice may have gradually ascended up to 60 dB then waned back down to 55 on a single syllable, a bad DRC filter would make it sound like a constant 55 which utterly rapes the dynamics. Thus, Dynamic Range Compression. On the recordings previously, this sounded to be the case, and this was a major cause of concern for me. It appears that this problem has now been resolved. The other issue I had was a generally poor job on the mastering, which seems to have been resolved. These two problems alone left a bad enough impression on me that I was considering docking the score a point or two. no longer an issue. What is still an issue is that in the song "Delirium" there are intense bass notes which seem to have been artificially boosted or just poorly recorded. Either way, my headphones are sensitive to that sort of thing, and when I hit the "bass boost" in itunes, the bass sounds like its rattling or "cracking". This issue is more than a bit egregious, so I would advise to the band to look into fixing this? Otherwise, the sound generally sounds like a lo-fi, garage band type sound.

     In short, thank god that this band turned up in the UG thread. Days of Tomorrow's thoroughly enjoyable blend of alt and hard rock with some various other heavy metal influences is definitely a good option for the metalhead seeking out something softer and more forgiving. Some hitches with the band's ability on their various instruments dam up Days of Tomorrow's efficacy a bit, and just overall, the music could use some more polish to set it aside from any other alt rock back. Regardless, Days of Tomorrow does not fit the bill for "average".


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