Days n' Daze - Crustfall (Cover Artwork)

Days n' Daze

Crustfall (2017)

All We've Got

The new Days n’ Daze project, Crustfall, is another solid release under the folk punk quintet’s belt, but doesn’t prove itself to be anything more than that.

This is the band’s first album since they were taken under the wing of legendary skacore act, Leftover Crack, through both extensive touring and a feature on the band’s 2015 album, Constructs of the State, so this is the band’s first new material for many fans (myself included). Their last full length, Rouge Taxidermy, instantly captivated me with its perfect balance between folk and punk at a time where the only folk punk I had listened to was early Andrew Jackson Jihad and Against Me!. To this day, Rouge Taxidermy remains one of my top three folk punk albums of all time (alongside Live the Dream and People Who Can Eat People are the Luckiest People in the World) and I come back to it quite regularly, but I feel the need for a 49 minute Rouge Taxidermy extension, which is essentially what this album is.

Of course there are some differences with this new record: most notably the increased production quality, which no longer features a constant high pitched squeak (or at least not as prominently), but keeps that low-fi, DIY feel which really added to the legitimacy of the record, though I’m sure the band could afford traditional recording studio time at this point if they wanted to. Crustfall also sets itself apart from its predecessor with its guest features. The band has enlisted the talent of such names as Jesse Markus (AKA Juicy Karkass), Freddie Boatright of Sidewalk Slammers, Joey Steele of All Torn Up, and Scott Sturgeon of Leftover Crack. These features, for the most part, go over pretty well: Markus (though I typically find his material to be a bit gimmicky) adds a really interesting element to the opener, Boatright’s verse fits perfectly into “To Risk To Live”, and Joey Steele writes a passionate verse on “Save A Life”, though his delivery is barely distinguishable from that of Jesse Sendejas’. The only feature that felt poorly executed was that of Scott Sturgeon. I can’t tell if it's because his delivery is lackluster, if he’s trying to come off as more emotional, or if his voice just doesn’t lend itself well to a more barebones instrumentation, but Sturgeon just feels out of place. It seems that he’s only there as a familiar name for newcomers and a friend of the band, rather than as a necessary part of the track.

Crusfall kicks off with the epic, “I Wanna See It Burn”, which lulls listeners into a false sense of security with some delicately strummed chords in the first few seconds, before breaking into a passionate group vocal verse: a great foot to start on. As mentioned earlier, Jesse Markus really knocks his feature out of the park and works really well with the band to produce a fiery feature, which briefly touches on topics such as depression, addiction, and poverty, among others, in a seamless stream of consciousness: all of which are central lyrical themes throughout the album. Another highlight, about halfway though, is the instantly ear-grabbing, “Wholesale Failure”, with its catchy, emphasized “what the fuck?” hook and breakneck vocal passages.

But some of Crustfall’s strongest moments come towards its conclusion. The first of these is the tranquil ballad, Anchor. This somber serenade is taken by vocalist Whitney Flynn as a solo, which instantly drew comparisons from it to “Blue Jays” off of their last full length. Separated from “Anchor” by the aforementioned abomination of a feature, “The Abliss”, the album is closed with it’s title track, “Crustfall”. “Crustfall” is a fantastic last impression for the band to go out on and is an eloquent tribute to the passing of the band’s loved ones, but it was following the last note on the album where I finally understood the terrible pun that this album’s title is, which my mind must have subconsciously decided not to decode until it was spelled out for me in the last few seconds of this album’s runtime. It’s a bit of a face-in-your-hands way to end a record, but it has its charm, I guess.

That said, at nearly 50 minutes, this album doesn’t quite justify its runtime. The band could have easily cut a few tracks here and there, such as blatant filler cut, “Days N Daze of Our Lives”. Also, I appreciate the attempt at something different on “Insta Mental Breakdown”, a piece of slam poetry over a medieval style instrumental, but, overall, their one attempt at any sort of musical risk falls flat. In summation, Crustfall will likely be a hit among those who have loved their past material, but is very unlikely to win over anyone who hasn’t been enamored with the band’s prior work. Days n’ Daze doesn’t mature or evolve their sound much with their new material and they seem content with that.