Posted on April 22nd, 2010 (1:03 pm) by Ryan Hall

When news came out that the Providence, RI mathcore outfit Daughters broke up shortly before the release of their third album, the typical accusations of selling out, going pop, alienating their original fan base, etc were leveled against the band. Ironically, if none of these allegations were true then the self-titled Daughters wouldn’t be such an outstanding success and wouldn’t have garnered the fawning that the indie press is giving it.

While miles away from their early days as a peerless grindcore band, Daughters is still unbelievably brutal—an ear-cleansing disregard for life-and-limb with insane time signatures and machine-gun chord changes. Though he has retired the high-pitched shrieks that punctuate their first legendary EP, Canada Songs, Alex S.F. Marshall’s vocals still sound like a drunken televangelist pleading for his life. This was a style introduced on the 2006 release of Hell Songs. Guitars are still tuned to sound like power tools ripping through sheet metal. As a document of something that ultimately broke up a band, it is difficult to see what all the fuss is about.

While Hell Songs managed to double the length of their debut album (putting it at a whopping 23 minutes) and gestured toward concrete song structures, it still wasn’t all that ambitious. Marshall’s David Yow impression and production help by Kayo Dot served only to acknowledge their noise-rock idols while the rest of the players kept lock-step in engineering-degree-technical hyphenated metal. Daughters takes all of the important changes introduced on Hell Songs and points them to a logical step, closing in on creating traditionally structured songs. And while the now-former members of Daughters may be uneasy with this, it’s proved to be a good move.

Daughters is universally described as the group’s most accessible album, and it is easy to see why. For all the lucid pop moments, however, Daughters takes these steps with great trepidation. Howling shout-along choruses are squelched by ferocious math freak-outs as quickly as they come up. Tight grooves that plod along effortlessly are torn apart by atonal blasts of noise and then recycled later in the song. This uncertainty is spelled out in Sadler’s guitar work, which grinds and grates with malevolent ferocity, but is often layered with the same kind of pop sheen that make bands like Dillinger Escape Plan and Torche relatively easy on the ears.

On tracks like “The Hit,” the terror-inducing squeals of dentist drill guitars are gone, replaced with melodic thrash-metal lines that arc above the frantic dissonance reproducing beneath the surface. Moves like this signify explorations into greater accessibility rather than a total surrendering of ideals. They are quickly and self-consciously muzzled the next second with pummeling blast beats and cheese grater guitar work. For a brief moment it works, even if under the scrutiny of the rest of the band

The push-pull tendencies between accessibility and a ne’er-do-well wall of noise render some of the album’s most thrilling moments. “The First Supper” turns big, dumb power chords into a squall of processed art-noise, like The Refused used to do during a song’s epic breakdown. “The Theatre Goer” comes about as close to a guitar solo as grindcore ever does—although the solo is essentially Sadler vs. the amplifier, accruing massive amounts of feedback while he quite literally strangles his guitar. Despite the grind-heavy intro, “Sweet Georgia Brown” is a trashy-bluesy strut that showcases Marshall’s rockabilly-swagger like James Chance on acid.

Daughters are often described as outcasts in a scene full of misfits. Providence, RI is responsible for birthing such misanthropic and jaw-droppingly amazing noise acts like Lightning Bolt, Pink and Brown, Black Pus and Forcefield. It is ironic that the album which ultimately broke up the band will be probably be hailed as their most controversial and strongest musical statement. Indefinite hiatuses call for long-awaited reunion tours—please consider it.

Track List:
1. The Virgin
2. The First Supper
3. The Hit
4. The Theatre Goer
5. Our Queens (One is Many, Many is One)
6. The Dead Singer
7. Sweet Georgia Brown
8. The Unattractive, Portable Head

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

80 / 100
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