ALBUM REVIEW: The Callous Daoboys – ‘Celebrity Therapist’

Five people standing in a field in a circle. Each has a different colour bag over their head—light green, dark green, yellow, pink, and red—and are holding on with their right hand to the one in front of them.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record by acknowledging hardcore’s consistent one-upping of itself this year, The Callous Daoboys might be up there with some of the best. Even from the outside looking in, that feels like the case, where no one has a bad word to say against them, and the way that’s translated into the excitement for this new album is a telltale sign of something wonderful to come. Of course, from the inside, that isn’t too surprising when 2019’s Die On Mars was as excellent of a breakthrough as it was, something that’s only been expanded upon on Celebrity Therapist to stratospheric levels.

Even on its purest fundamentals, this is the sort of album where The Callous Daoboys feel totally confident in their direction. At its core, there’s the mathcore chaos affixed with razor-wire dynamics to show off an unparalleled viciousness; built on that though, are elements of glassjaw-esque post-hardcore and the current wave of MySpace screamo revivalism in its attitude and figure. There’s far deeper tone and colour to The Callous Daoboys here than just another clean heir apparent to The Dillinger Escape Plan, though that isn’t to say a part of them couldn’t fit that bill.

More accurately, they aren’t restricted to just that, and so Celebrity Therapist really goes deep in integrating its other sonic avenues with just as much force. Honestly though, it’s hard to pull at too many individual threads when The Callous Daoboys bring them together so compactly, and are so aware of how to use them among their icepick brutality. A good example is Title Track, in which its spasmodic riffing and Amber Christman’s nail-on-glass violin touches come to a dead stop for a low, creeping guitar thrum and vocal harmonies, devoid of proper connective tissue but not feeling awkward either.

It’s all a case of atmosphere, something which distinguishes The Callous Daoboys from so many of their peers and contemporaries. That’s ‘atmosphere’ in its broader sense too, in how the band stray away from how clinical and impenetrable so much of mathcore can be, typically to its detriment. A lot of that can be attributed to Jack Buckalew on bass, regularly providing a heaving thrum that’s notably frayed at the edges, and it makes a world of difference when pitted against guitars and drumming so zeroed-in and tightened. Likewise, the production amplifies a colossal sound that can be frequently neglected, and thus gives The Callous Daoboys a sense of life that drives them forward nonstop.

On top of that, there’s a lot of style on this album, no doubt owed to the eras of post-hardcore it keeps in view, and that once again add up to much more than the sum of its parts. Instrumentally, there’s a noteworthy flair for the dramatic in how A Brief Article Regarding Time Loops or Field Sobriety Practice are structured, or how What Is Delicious? Who Swarms? basically feels like a Bleeding Through track in its head-caving metalcore stomp and blaring synth line. It similarly applies to Carson Pace as a vocalist, a fantastic screamer with dizzying range and technique, and also a sense of sass that really comes to power on Violent Astrology and Star Baby. The combination of it all always hits its mark, and when the writing stands out just as much for its piecemeal phraseology that hits some astoundingly quotable lines, particularly on Star Baby, Celebrity Therapist only appreciates in value with each subsequent spin.

Even in the banner year that hardcore has been having, Celebrity Therapist, in all regards, just keeps proving that there’s always a few rungs higher to climb. In terms of sheer creativity, it’s no contest, but the fact that The Callous Daoboys lands so frequently and so succinctly is what continues to put them over the top. Most hardcore wishes it had as much of an abundance of style and substance as Celebrity Therapist does; even among the best of them, The Callous Daoboys simply feel unstoppable.

For fans of: The Dillinger Escape Plan, SeeYouSpaceCowboy, Kaonashi

‘Celebrity Therapist’ by The Callous Daoboys is released on 2nd September on MNRK Heavy.

Words by Luke Nuttall

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