Continuing down the path of its predecessor, ‘Afterburner’ sees experimental post-hardcore quintet Dance Gavin Dance adding more influences to their sonic palette.
Taking more risks and leaning into their pop sensibilities on their ninth record, Sacramento’s Dance Gavin Dance continue to flex their ever-changing tropes to deliver a record that’s as refreshing as it is familiar.
Launching straight into lead single ‘Prisoner’, smooth chords and falsetto vocals provide a lush foundation that eases the transition between soaring choruses and funk inspired instrumentals. At this point in their career, infusing multiple influences together has become the expected for the quintet, but as the opening track displays, Dance Gavin Dance manage to seamlessly combine the unique clean delivery of Tilian Pearson and the rough and ready roars of Jon Mess.
As the first half of the record plays through, it becomes apparent that ‘Afterburner’ is the group’s most cohesive yet complex record to date; a shining example of this is ‘Calentamiento Global’ (Spanish for ‘Global Warming’), which simultaneously highlights Matthew Mingus‘ dense drum patterns and boasts an irresistible Latin led chorus, with Pearson singing solely in Spanish whilst Mess sticks to the English language with his screams.
Whilst the record could rely on bursts of abrasive distortion or left-field influences, ‘Afterburner’ sees elements of restraint taking center stage. For example, ‘One In A Million’ drags relatively commercial soundscapes into the quintets blend of post-hardcore and experimental rock.
Ushering in the second half of the record, ‘Born To Fail’ delivers sprawling riffs and throat shredding screams to collide with bouncing choruses. It also highlights the broad influences of fretboard wizard Will Swan, with pulsating palm-muting working alongside twisting melodies.
Following up with the rap flavoured ‘Parallels’, swinging grooves lock in with thick slabs of distortion, and by playing with space and polarising dynamics, it uses the minimal structure to its advantage. Whilst ‘Parallels’ works with broad dynamic shifts, ‘Night Sway’ jumps into meaty riffs and sweeping choruses with pleasure. It may not be as experimental as some of its predecessors, but it does provide a late highlight addition to the record.
Closing with the one-two punch of ‘Nothing Shameful’ and ‘Into The Sunset’, ‘Afterburner’ navigates juddering rhythms, technical metal influenced riffing, and swooping vocal hooks with confidence.
As the group’s ninth record draws to a close, the firm post-hardcore roots of Dance Gavin Dance seem to have all but left them in favour for an altogether new sound.
A short guy, loves all genres, still believes it’s 2005. Watches too much TV.