Wow, I have clearly not been paying attention to metalcore these last few years. Is this what the kids like these days? Can we get more of this? If we get more of this, does this mean we’d get less shitty Emmure and Obey The Brave clones? It would be impossible for me to review Dirt Cannon‘s debut LP Get Beaten without horribly dating myself.
My metalcore frame of reference is stuck firmly in the early 2000s when bands like Poison the Well, Remembering Never, and Walls of Jericho were still relevant. At the time, the metalcore formula was relatively simple; take the pummeling heaviness and breakdowns of mid-90’s east coast hardcore, transpose the guitar parts to minor chords, add a dose of metal’s musical complexity, ditch the cargo shorts and Judge hoodies for tight black jeans and perfectly coiffed, slightly goth hairdos, and make sure the vocals strike a balance between menacing brutality and “boo hoo, my girlfriend just left me” sensitivity. And for a time, I ate that shit up! However, in 2003 a little band from Buffalo, New York dropped a record that proved the genre’s rules were meant to be broken. Every Time I Die‘s Hot Damn! was a major departure from their earlier work, successfully incorporating southern rock elements that exchanged mathy dissonance for super groovy riffs. The tunes still compelled you to kung-fu the fuck out of your fellow pit-mates, but they could just as easily get your foot tapping and head bobbing. And thus the sub-genre of southern metalcore was born, but for the life of me I couldn’t name any other bands who jam this sound (feel free to educate this old fella in the comments section).
So, unless there a giant bit of metalcore history I missed, it is difficult to listen to Get Beaten without hearing Dirt Cannon’s clear love and respect for that signature ETID sound. The first track, “Make it High”, is a total banger that is as heavy as it is fun. It showcases Dirt Cannon’s dedication to thick, tasty riffs. Lead singer Olivier Bédard’s vocal style and lyrical delivery are clearly informed by ETID’s Keith Buckley, but contain enough unique elements to remain distinct. While I’m usually not a fan of clean backing vocals, guitarist Dominic Boisclair provides a nice contrast to Bédard’s growl. The track’s outro clip of Punk folk hero/ pervert GG Allin talking about keeping rock and roll dangerous is a cool touch and nicely sets up the weighty impact of the groovy proceeding track “If a Tree Falls”.
The guitar work, handled by Boisclair and second guitarist Maxime Desjardins, really shines on Get Beaten. The riffs are consistently juicy, and the solos, while sparse, are executed well and lend the tunes a good dose of rock’n’roll swagger. The rhythm section, manned by drummer Olivier Gamache-Lalonde and bassist Julien Chartrand, is incredibly solid. Gamache-Lalonde’s liberal use of cowbell makes me want to buy him a beer.
While there are a number of stand out tracks on Get Beaten, such as the excellent “Unless”, which is almost a completely straight up piece of riff rock that wouldn’t be out of place on a Tricky Woo record, a number of the songs tend to fit a predictable framework and thus have a tendency to blend together. The songs “Kingdom Comes”, “A Dying Breed”, and “Release the Lions”, while all containing some unique elements, eventually lapse into a very similar tempo and rhythmic pattern. Bédard and Boisclair’s harsh/clean vocal trade off works well early on, but this back and forth happens so frequently and with such similar structure throughout the record that it would be nice to hear the guys play around with the formula.
Overall, Get Beaten is a rollicking good time. Sure, there is a healthy dose of ETID worship on display, but for a genre that is currently inundated with hyper-masculine jockcore, it’s great to see young bands opting to worship the riff over the breakdown. Seriously Emmure, stop. STAHP.
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Written by Jesse Gainer