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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Das Oath
Das Oath
Dim Mak Records

Rating: 6/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Escape now, while you still can. Das Oath is on a rampage and it seems there's no way to kill these terrifying hardcore monsters. Bullets just bounce off their careening guitars and the thick cartilage of their bass. Like the mythological Furies, Das Oath's whirlwind drums descend upon a punk scene, rife with corruption to avenge crimes against the genre. Clap your hands over your ears so the screaming, vocal birds-of-prey don't pierce your eardrums. Run like hell for shelter; you don't want to get in their way.

This is punk rock that causes governors to call out the National Guard and declare martial law. It's monolithic and intense beyond words. What they don't realize is Das Oath will eventually wear itself out - like they do on this, their scorching self-titled Dim Mak debut.

Hardcore records, I find, are among the hardest ones to review. You have to ignore the raw-throated yelling, however impassioned, and sift through the noisy debris of clashing instrumentation to find musical ideas to glom onto. And if you happen upon a discovery, the songs go by so fast you're left wondering if there was something in there worth exploring further.

And so it is with Das Oath. The accelerator is stuck and songs that exceed even punk's speed limit barrel through stop signs, lasting all of about 90 seconds and then slamming right into the next track before leaving the scene of the accident. "Awesome Rape", for example, starts out with a death-defying, hyper-speed climb that chases the Dillinger Escape Plan up the mountains, then downshifts - at least according to Das Oath standards - as it heads into angled curves of growling guitar riffs. Coming fast around the bend is "Great News From The South Pole", a terrific blast of Scandinavia-meets-Detroit garage rock with hooks that grab you by the collar and throw you down to the ground. The transition, though it feels like a head-on crash, is seamless.

That's not always the case with Das Oath, though. The swaggering guitars of "Comatose Life Of Wonderment" are full of the kind of machismo that served an Old West gunfighter well when deep inside he feared his next draw would be his last. But, the song's beginning is just blustery filler, and the ending is no different. And so it bumps into "The Great Anything", where all the elements - the 100-mile per hour drums, the slashing guitars, and the shrieking vocals - can't seem to get on the same page. "Disney Surgery" suffers from the same malady, and so those songs, and others like it, like the opener "The Kult Starts (Somewhere)", sound full of empty, impotent rage.

When it works, Das Oath's hardcore is as thrilling and electric as anything out there. It's what Bad Brains would sound like without the Rastafarian spiritualism and the reggae influence. At times, Das Oath mixes in some progressive shifts in tempo and it makes tracks like "The Virtue Of Elitism" more dynamic. That's why Dillinger Escape Plan is so good and their sound has so much heft to it. Too often Das Oath abandons such notions in favor of punk tantrums that simply stomp their feet and yell. The vocals don't help. All that caterwauling is a distraction Das Oath could do without.

It's interesting that half the band lives in New York City, while the other half resides in The Netherlands. Maybe they simply don't have enough time together to flesh out some of their arrangements. If that's the case, it could be that all they need is a little more time in the studio, and a producer that'll help them lock in on the Fugazi-like grooves Das Oath stumbles on every now and then. Somebody should put them in touch with Steve Albini. He could use the work.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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