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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Dog Fashion Disco

Committed to a Bright Future

Review by Mike Korn

What kind of a band calls itself Dog Fashion Disco? And what kind of band features an open toilet and a grinning wash basin on its front cover? This kind...

I put this in not knowing what to expect, but I really didn't think I was going to hear one of the albums of the year. Yet that is exactly what I got. "Committed to a Bright Future" is one of the most bizarre, yet completely catchy heavy metal albums you will ever hear, and the band distinguishes itself as top notch in just about every way. A fairly quick and easy comparison would be to the much-missed Faith No More and its whacked-out subsidiary, Mr. Bungle. But that gives Dog Fashion Disco little of the credit they deserve. They have truly mastered the difficult art of genre-blending here. The material ranges from aggressive, almost Slayer-style thrash to ska-influenced bounce to jazzy pop to slamming nu-metal...and often that mix is found within the same cut. But the music is not "herky-jerky" or dissonant in the least. The songs are compact, catchy and full of memorable hooks...they flow smoothly through transitions that other bands couldn't even contemplate, much less execute.

Vocalist Todd Smith is a major find. His range is incredible, going from sweet lounge-style crooning to roaring anger and hitting every conceivable point in between. If you want to hear a master singer at work, check out the track "Rapist Eyes", where he shows everything he is apable of. The rest of the band backs him up superbly. As far as image and lyrics go, DFD seems deliberately childish and offensive, creating disturbing imagery that nonetheless achieves a kind of weird poetry. Check out the "nonsensical" babble that accompanies "Dr. Piranha" or "The Acid Memoirs" and you'll find yourself in a world like a Warner Brothers cartoon under the influence of PCP! You better grab some tranquilizers and strap yourselves in tight, this is going to be one wild ride...

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Love Song For A Witch
This starts out heavy and ominous, hitting a very crunchy thrash groove before morphing into some sort of weird "circus music" vibe with a hokey organ hook. Todd Smith's vocal fluctuations go into overdrive right from the start. The track is a nutty but effective amalgamation of metal with a campy carnival-like atmosphere.
Rapist Eyes
The workout Smith gives his voice here is amazing. The track starts with him roaring in an absolutely brutal style over a heavy tumbling guitar riff. It then moves to a catchier but still powerful feel mixed with a laid-back, mysterious sounding piano hook. Smith's voice is almost surreally beautiful as he croons the chorus over a loud guitar hook.
Dr. Piranha
By the time this rolls in, you know for sure these guys are crazy, and this song only confirms it. Fast and energetic for most of its length, it unleashes some offensive and surreal lyrics about the experiments of a mad scientist. Synthesizer emphasizes the guitar riffing, giving parts of the track a kind of cheesy 50's sci-fi feel.
Fetus on the Beat
Yes, the tune is actually about a fetus bouncing down the street! The heavy synth gives it an almost Middle Eastern feel, but there's a heavy chorus and towards the end of the song, the staccato riffing almost reminds me of early Voi Vod!
Worm in a Dog's Heart
This is one of the best tracks on the disc. Starting with a creepy little keyboard tune, it soon kicks in with a crunchy metallic shuffle. The music on the verse is absolutely the corniest cartoon music you will ever hear...I laughed out loud the first time I heard it. But the transition between this motif and the heavy parts is actually really smooth. Smith's vocals are extremely angry as they relay these bitter lyrics: "Pathetic little sheep children/following the herd/Guided by the thoughts/in their empty little heads!"
Plastic Surgeons
A mostly up-tempo tune that features a kind of droning feel to Smith's vocals on the chorus. That high-pitched keyboard piping during the chorus really annoyed me.
Pogo The Clown
This cut reminds me of Oingo Boingo with its jazzy, ska-influenced approach featuring horns and piano. It's smooth jazz pop with a hard rocking chorus. Yes, the track is about John Wayne Gacy and get a load of these lyrics: "Pogo, happy clown molester/paints his face to disguise the jester/Joined the local Moose Lodge chapter/Spawning evil ever after."
Castaway
Starting with a deliberately old-fashioned sound on harpsichord, the song alternates a dreamy feeling with an extremely harsh and heavy pounding on the chorus. Smith's vocals jump from beautifully laid-back to almost death metal in a heartbeat.
Nude In the Wilderness
This is more in the realm of hard rock than heavy metal and would be an excellent choice for radio airplay. The pace is fast but not blistering and there's plenty of accessible hooks. However, if you think the band is trying for conformity, one look at the lyrics will end that, as it sounds like a religious-themed acid trip that results in Armageddon.
The Acid Memoirs
That leads us neatly into this peculiar cut, which starts out like cliched Russian folk music with harpsichord and flute accompaniment. Then the song radically shifts gears into the hardest thrash riff on the album, with Smith's vocals bellowing insanely. It's a weird, hop-scotching trip through a musical madhouse. "I met a man, I shook his hand/He spoke, I did not understand/ He was covered in flies and afterbirth."
Deja Vu
This mellow, drifting tune shows the relaxing and jazz-influenced side of Dog Fashion Disco. It has a vaguely psychedelic vibe to it and Todd Smith's vocals are virtually whispered until the beautiful chorus comes in. A nice sax solo helps the tune along. There's something kind of mocking about such a perfect pop track being on an album as twisted as this.
Magical Band of Fools
This is twangy funk rock that almost conjures up visions of the dreaded "D" word (you can find it in the band's name and I ain't talkin' about "dog"). Kind of a Wild Cherry vibe with horns and bouncy bass. Once again, the chorus gets heavy and Smith bellows out "Repeat After Me: Only Fools Won't Get Fooled Again"!
Slide It In (Hidden Track)
I think this bonus track is a cover of an old Whitesnake song, played tongue in cheek. The group slams hard on the music, but they are having some fun with the hopelessly cliched sex lyrics here.
 
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