Dance Gavin Dance release their highly anticipated ninth studio album, Afterburner, this week via Rise Records.
The album is produced by longtime collaborator Kris Crummett (Issues, Sleeping With Sirens, Mayday Parade) and Drew Fulk a.k.a. WZRD BLD (Lil Wayne, Motionless in White, Bad Wolves.)
The album is a dynamic range for the band, providing a blend that is both parts melodic and contentious.
Opening with the debut single, “Prisoner,” the album starts with Will Swan’s intricate guitar work. The song quickly flows into Tilian Pearson’s distinctive harmonies.
“Lyrics Lie” follows with another safe sounding track. The chorus of the song is catchy, and Pearson’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics provoke a smile. The track also features Veil of Maya guitarist, Marc Okubo. However, the leading two tracks are not the most catching.
Things truly get interesting with “Calentamiento Global” with Pearson singing in Spanish. The title translates literally to “heating global.” The blend of his melodies with Jon Mess’ unclean vocals provides a explorative juxtaposition that somehow just works.
“Strawberry’s Wake” offers a sound that is unmistakably DGD in the midst of the experimental chaos that is Afterburner. The bridge is something that will adapt perfectly as a live performance with the lyrics “If you feel your feelings, let the feelings heal your fucked up mind. Put your palms to the sky.”
The next track, “Born to Fail” starts off heavy, but that energy dissipates as soon as Pearson kicks in. The glimpse of heavy tones leaves listeners wishing for more of it through the rest of the album.
“Parallels” starts with a groovy intro that leads into words by Mess that beg to be screamed along with. “Night Sway” follows, creating a true rock sound; a highlight of the bands instrumental strengths. Former DGD member Zachary Garren makes an appearance in “Parody Catharsis.”
“Say Hi” is another track that feeds the need for heavy music on the album. The relatable lyrics provide a more inspiring track. The eleventh song on the album is easily the best.
Another high point of Afterburner includes vocals by Andrew Michael Wells (Eidola) in “Nothing Shameful.”
“Into the Sunset” is a pop filled track featuring Bilmuri that slows things down for the album’s closure.
For a band that rejects formulas and pushes creativity – there seems to be a lack of “spark” on the album. Strong tracks like “Parody Catharsis,” “Say Hi” and “Three Wishes” stand out against lackluster, safe-played songs.