"M-e-t-a-l-c-o-r-e -- it’s not a four letter word"
If some of the bands that have come into popularity these last few years still have you skeptical, there are some bands you can always return to that will remind you of why you loved it in the first place. A lot of people cite Botch or Converge as “that” band, but for me, it’s always been New Jersey’s Deadguy. Their Victory debut and sole full-length, Fixation on a Coworker doesn’t resort to recycled pedal tone riffing, sing-along emotional choruses or trite double-bass rolls; the formula is a simple combination of real hardcore and real metal, resulting in some of the most beautiful sources of chaos and would later become the envy, and eventually the template, for a new era of metal bands.
Production-wise, you won’t find pristine, but something more granular; if it was an object, you could probably cut yourself on the ridges. Of course, this only benefits the music as the angular riffs sound like blood-lusting buzzsaws and the palm-muting and tom hits are particularly blaring and heavy.
“Doom Patrol” smacks you in the face right away with galloping speed and bottom-string riffs lush with dissonant natural harmonics. The vocalist, who harnesses overall metal intensity and the throat-grinding attack of a hardcore shout, brings the song to a brief moment of silence before a slow, string-bending breakdown. “Pins and Needles” is a little less straightforward, opening with intricate tom fills and syncopation while the words "This job runs you / this day kills you / this suit owns you / this man tells you what to do" are drilled into your head. Unlike some blood and gore-obsessed metal bands, Deadguy plays off of real life horror, and as a kid who fears a future confined to a cubicle, I can confirm this. Decreasing the pace, “Die with Your Mask On” is a mid-tempo, E chord chugging rant before breaking into a chromatic frenzy as a foundation for the lines "so quick to deny and patronize"; this song, especially, you can hear subtle traces of what would eventually coin the term “mathcore.”
More harmonic dissonance opens up “Makeshift Atomsmasher,” definitely the most brutal (not this kind of brutal) and unpredictable cut on the album; at only 2:38, Deadguy shows you don’t need length to prove technical proficiency. In fact, only one song reaches over three minutes. “Nine Stitches”’s bridge makes me wish I paid more attention in my AP Music Theory class, as the time changes may not trip up Dillinger Escape Plan, but it will confuse any casual headbanger (1-2-3…what the fuck, right?); subtlety is this band’s forte. Next, “Riot Stairs” enters with gloomy, slightly clean arpeggios. Some fast hardcore-esque drums join, thundering along to the desperate yelps of "therapy, not love" -- once again, something I can relate to. The last track, “Crazy Eddie” (the song that reaches over three minutes) consists of three themes: the first is based around a Slayer-influenced single note riff played extremely slow; the second section comes in after a long pause that almost seemed like the song was over with some kickass rhythmic exercises; the third ends with hard and tedious chord strikes.
No solos, no unnecessary breakdowns -- but still technical and heavy as fuck. Fixation on a Coworker left huge shoes to fill that very few have come close to. This is essential modern metal.