It’s hard to think that, around a decade ago, rock was dominated by the sounds of nu-metal and artists like Linkin Park were taking the rock world by storm. Whilst the UK was in full-on Coldplay adoration mode, the US was going nuts for distorted chords, drums that sounded like thunder and lyrics you could shout from the rooftops.
Dangerkids, a quintet from Ohio, clearly remember that era fondly. Their influences are not too tricky to figure out after a first listen to Collapse, their debut album. This is basically the sound of 2003 with the addition of up-to-date electronics. There’s nothing you won’t have heard before, which is a big part of the problem with Collapse.
You know what you’re in for from the moment Countdown starts. There is so much going on that it’s difficult to keep track. Every now and again something distinguishable rises above the layers of heavy guitars and strong beats such as a chiming guitar melody or a chorus of “wooaaah”s. Glitch gradually subsides to make way for a sweeping strings-based outro. It’s fair to say that they clearly mean business.
This intensity is maintained throughout the remaining 11 tracks, but their range is somewhat limited. Their default mode set is “we are ready for battle” and, whilst seeing bands with a fire in their belly is never to be discouraged, there’s only so much of it you can take in before begging for a change in tone and mood. But on it goes; Hostage thumps along, taking no prisoners on the way, with the line “This is what it comes down to”.
Even when the tempo is slowed and the ferocity is reined in, there’s still a remarkable amount of intensity. The verses of Unmade features rapping on top of overwrought arrangements dominated by soft guitar plucks. Its chorus is rather bland and sees Andy Bane utilise his voice to sound (bizarrely) like a new wave star.
To say that Dangerkids aren’t really trying hard would be harsh; you’d be facing a difficult task trying to find anyone who could call something this brash and primal lazy. However, for all the bluster and the heavy-handed heart-on-sleeve nature of their lyrics, it misses the target more often than not. Additionally, when you consider the lack of invention, Collapse’s mission statement falls on deaf ears. When artists are blending hard rock with electronic elements in interesting ways (see Nine Inch Nails), something as basic as this just doesn’t cut it.