Today Is The Day
Black Market Activities
What is certain about Today is the Day supremo Steve Austin is that he can’t be accused of ever resting on his laurels. Over the last 20 years he has provided some of underground metal’s most influential, uncompromising and in-your face releases, either through their abrasive nature or through the band’s ability to morph with every release, through noise rock/metal, grindcore and more in the process.
It’s probably a fair comment then that most people probably weren’t expecting ‘Pain is a Warning‘ to be so…accessible. While its still heavier than a sack of steel potatoes and while Austin still sounds menacing as ever, its not the sort of record that harries you into a corner, leaving you fearful of what it might do to you next. That’s because once again, Austin and his new crew (Curran Reynolds and Ryan Jones of Wetnurse) have crafted yet another fine slab of molten noise, just one with swagger and groove, perhaps not strong suits of past TitD releases, although not ones most fans would have cared for.
The traditional elements are there, certainly judging from the grindcore bludgenory of ‘Death Curse’, but by the time we reaching ‘Wheelin”, you suspect Austin and his gang are really enjoying this, as he screams ‘Woman! What are you doing?‘, and when the next track, ‘The Devil’s Blood’ comes along, the party is definitely in full swing, with a jarring chorus punctuated with a fist-pumping gang vocal. And then in a further surprise, Austin throws in two gentler numbers, ‘Remember To Forget’ and the country-tinged ‘This Is You’, delivering a softer vocal throughout both – something never before heard in Today Is The Day’s music, although this is offset inbetween by the looming monster riffs of ‘Slave to Serenity’ and ‘Samurai’.
There is a certain amount of repetition about some of the riffs on the album, but unlike the recent Loutallica album, they don’t outstay their welcome, or at least there’s enough life in them to keep the listener interested. The title track is a good example, taking a long time to build up, but Austin almost whispers successive lyrics in keeping with the general air of menace that’s about to explode. Patience with this approach is certainly rewarded, upon the explosive screams in the chorus.
Some may bemoan this shift in sound, but Austin has never been one for compromise. The decision to enlist Converge’s Kurt Ballou as producer is a masterstroke in itself, giving Austin and co free reign to unleash hell. And hell it certainly is. ‘Pain is a Warning‘ is a snarling beast of anger from start to finish, even drawing pleasure from its range by some of the damnest fine rock n’ roll riffs this side of Thin Lizzy. A true testament to Steve Austin, always reinventing Today Is The Day but forever against the grain.