Don the Reader - Humanesque
Record Label: Dovecote Records
Release Date: October 7, 2008
Nowadays, there are so many genre’s to describe heavy music (metalcore, grindcore, hardcore, screamo, etc). These genres obviously have become over-saturated and over-used to the point of annoyance and frustration. The hardcore/metalcore/screamo scene that is currently upon us is one that seems prime for collapsing in on itself at any moment under the weight of its indistinguishable breakdowns and American Apparel hoodies. But amidst all of the downtrodden and pessimistic feelings one could have over this matter, there seems to be a few rays of light, one of them being Don the Reader and their debut record, Humanesque.
Hailing from California, Don the Reader does not waste anytime getting you ready to move. Their pulsing intro of “328” grabs you and throws you into the onslaught of their first two opening tracks (“Malfunction,” “Teethgrinder”) without warning. They use Coalesce-inspired riffage with breakdowns reminiscent of Every Time I Die’s “Hot Damn!” to show you that they mean business up front, but a little party in the back (even being able to fit in time for some tambourine shakes on “Teethgrinder”). Though it is hard to tell where the first songs ends and second begins, it doesn’t seem like it really matters in the context of the technical attack that Don the Reader is forming.
The title track starts off no different from the first two songs on the record. The first three and a half minutes are full of the technical riffing you’ve come to expect from this album. But halfway through the six minute long track, this curious melodic, Explosions in the Sky-esque score comes into play for the rest of the track. This allows the listener to take a break and recover what was and is to come. But as soon as the reprieve has ended, Don the Reader throws you back into the fiery furnace of panic chords and Botch riffs with “Con- Scientist.”
“Hotwar” is a back and forth battle between Botch and Deftones, musically. They do not have certain parts of the song where they are heavy and then another were they are melodic, they, instead, just toss it into the one of the best songs on the record. The next track, “Pre-self Deficiency,” includes one of the best breakdowns of the whole record. After that, the band rehashes “Reader,” a tune from their debut EP. This track is one of the more typical of the bunch, but punishing nonetheless. “Designer Flesh” is another songs in which they use the “heavy for half, melodic for half” formula, except they end the song by telling us to “broadcast the fucking fantasy” in one of the most crippling breakdowns of the album.
The album ends on a high note with “I Swallowed New Orleans” where according to Don the Reader, they did in fact swallow New Orleans, and the grand closer “Guillotension." This song includes the most clever build-up’s, with the band building up and then turning it into a atmospheric soundscape before breaking down.
Don the Reader successfully put out a stellar debut with Humanesque. The only minor vice I found in the record was the length of the record (clocking in at just about an hour). But everything you would want from what some would call a “technical metalcore” band is there, along with many surprises along the way to keep things interesting.