Down I Go - Tyrant
Experimental Hardcore, Avant-Garde
12 songs (30:51)
Release year: 2008
Down I Go, Undergroove
Reviewed by Goat

For all the supposed breakthroughs and achievements in the underground Hardcore scene, there are very few that stand up to the prolonged gaze of listeners such as us, dear reader; those used to real wonders from Extreme Metal or Progressive Rock’s varied artists. After all, has there been a ‘Core band since Refused that has produced an album as good, as worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as The Shape Of Punk To Come? Well, don’t go screaming their name in the street just yet, but if any of the emerging artists down there are capable of producing a masterpiece similar to the Swedes, then London-based four-piece Down I Go are. The band clearly enjoy putting themselves directly atop the ‘genius/stupid’ border – after a self-released debut about dinosaurs, the band’s first label release This Is Disastercore was a collection of sharp-edged, Refused-meets-Dillinger Escape Plan, short but catchy blasts that each described a major disaster, from the sinking of the Titanic to the great fire of London.

Clearly trying to outdo themselves, the latest release from Down I Go is another concept album, dealing with tyrants in human history. From the first dissonant riff of opener Tomas De Torquemada the album refuses to be relegated to the usual Converge rip-offs – the melodic backing vocals and electronics would be enough to raise Down I Go above the crowd, but it’s the mid-song string section that adds an Avant-Garde element and starts to make Tyrant as good as it is. The track leads seamlessly into Joseph Stalin, orchestral flourishes, gang-shouted choruses, ambient sections… given the short running length of the album, you’ll probably need several listens before you ‘get’ it, but it’s worth the effort.

Highlights are frequent, and include the Converge meets early Killing Joke of Nicolae Ceaucescu (with added piano breakdown!) the general Post Punk influences and epic singing of Saparmurat Niyazov (a spectacular nutcase, leader of Turkmenistan who had an ice palace constructed for himself and banned dogs, beards and ballet – all of these ‘leaders’ are worth Wikipedia-ing if you’ve not heard of any of them) and the trumpets of Henry VIII, all excellent. These and other moments are superb simply because they come across as being experimental without making it sound forced or ‘wacky’ as some bands sadly do.

It’s not all perfect – the short blast of George W. Bush Jr is surprisingly forgettable given the subject matter, although it’s not a bad track. Also, some of the choices of tyrants are questionable – Ariel Sharon’s here but no Hitler or Mussolini? Henry VIII but no Truman, the man who had Japan nuked twice? Saddam Hussein, a generally bad egg, is missing, as are a plethora of other historical and current figures who could be deemed tyrannical. It all comes down to politics, of course, but even if you think ‘better’ tyrants could have been chosen, it’s pretty hard to deny that all of the people named on this album have committed some pretty tyrannical acts. All in all, however, Tyrant is a great listen for the fan of modern Hardcore, with Progressive influences here and there (especially Pol Pot and the end of Ivan The Terrible) to keep the genre looking forward.

Killing Songs :
Tomas De Torquemada, Joseph Stalin, Nicolae Ceaucescu, Saparmurat Niyazov, Augusto Pinochet, Pol Pot, Ivan The Terrible
Goat quoted 81 / 100
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