Finding the right balance.
Former New York Rangers GM Neil Smith once wisely summarised, perhaps with unintended wit, “The playoffs separate the men from the boys, and we found out we have a lot of boys in our dressing room.” In a musical context, studio albums have a funny way of weeding out the genuine from the pretenders too. Thankfully, California’s Twitching Tongues on their third studio album, ‘Disharmony’, have presented an imposing, developed and assertive release. Far from juvenile and instead fiercely mature, the band’s Metal Blade Records debut is the record the boys have hinted at being able to produce in the past, but, this time, have finally delivered. Simply, the music does all the talking.
Riffs aren’t merely the appetiser here; they’re the main course as well as the icing you sprinkle on the cake to make the dessert all the more sweeter. ‘Disharmony’ adopts a decisively old-school approach. It has the thrash components well covered, and shows equal influence from 90’s death metal while still rooted in the band's punk/hardcore origins. Guitarist Taylor Young summarised it well when he suggested the full-length is the band’s most “cohesive” album yet. Not to discredit anything the group delivered in the past, but it always seemed to appeal in isolation instead of across the board. Did Twitching Tongues want to revel in the Type O Negative styled melo drama they explored? Did they want to become straight hardcore? Maybe metal was par for the course? There were solid songs, but the albums didn’t feel entirely complete. ‘Disharmony’ remedies any (small) concerns, and beats the listener into entertained submission with 10 well-planned tracks.
The tail doesn’t wag the dog; it’s heavy with melodic undertones and breaks in the collection, not vice versa. The album’s opener (and title track) is one of the best songs of 2015. Simply put. Kerry King must be sitting at home, scratching his head and wondering how those riffs never first formulated in the Slayer camp.
‘Love Conquers None’ is the initial moment of respite, slowing down to a mid-tempo approach. However, there are never any extended moments to catch your breath. These slower periods are eventually succeeded by the intensity. See the transition from the aforementioned into ‘Insatiable Sin’. The bass heavy, thrash inspired ‘Cannibal’ is the mosh pit anthem, while ‘Sacrifice Me’ has a loosely and strangely reminiscent Faith No More refrain in the beginning, before the double kick patterns keep the pace.
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Previously, the elephant in the room, for some listeners, has been Colin Young’s vocals. While professional and always on point, the style is certainly unique in comparison to the band’s peers. There have never been prominent guttural screams and growls that usually accompany this style of music, allowing the lyrics to remain decipherable. Let’s dispel any worry; here they work perfectly in the fold. Trust us, once you get acquainted with the delivery, the rest falls into place suitably. Crooning moment ‘The End Of Love’ (these titles suggest the band isn't that optimistic about the idea of affection) contains these bellowing tones, while ‘Cruci-Fiction’ doesn’t go out brief at eight minutes plus.
For people who wanted to find reason to embrace Twitching Tongues in the past but just weren’t quite there yet, ‘Disharmony’ will empathetically carry them over to the other side. And doesn’t the sun shine that much brighter on this side of the fence.
Raw, gritty and unrestrained, it's a neat (and successful) trifecta for Twitching Tongues. 'Disharmony' elevates the band from potential also-rans to the ones to catch in the contemporary genre. Impressive.
2. Insincerely Yours
3. Asylum Avenue
4. Love Conquers None
5. Insatiable Sin
7. Sacrifice Me
9. The End of Love