Dub Trio - New Heavy (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Dub Trio

New Heavy (2006)


Dub music. Lee "Scratch" Perry, King Tubby, Mad Professor and Scientist. Chill out grooves heavy on bass repetition, studio manipulation and overdubs. Augustus Pablo wailing on a melodica. Dub has never been the most interesting genre to mainstream cultures who latched onto dub's upbeat cousins, reggae and ska. But ever since playing Grand Theft Auto III with the radio constantly tuned to K-JAH (and subsequently learning that all those tracks were from Scientist Rids the World of the Curse of the Evil Vampires), I've held a special place in my heart for dub.

So when I heard there was a modern dub group out there mixing shit up, I thought it could be sweet. The sticker on the cover calls them "The Sonic Youth of Dub." People talked about them throwing in hardcore and metal riffs, blending genres and keeping stuff kosher at the same time. Now I wouldn't call myself a purist, but this whole bending genres thing never really sits well in my stomach. Third wave ska gives me diarrhea; rap-metal gave me a hernia and a subsequent stroke.

The album kicks off with "Illegal Dub" and a forced sounding hardcore riff that cranks out double time speed for about a minute before it drops out and the bassline comes out of the silence and when we expect run-of-the-mill dub beats to start, so does the guitar, rocking out the dub riff like a bad piece of rap-metal. I almost cried, but then the guitar faded out and into its reverbed fret hits and upstrokes. "Not Alone" featuring Mike Patton sounds like a Faith No More song with a dubby angle.

"Angle of Acceptance" kicks off with machine gun metal snare riffing that brilliantly carries on into the un-mistakably dub drum riff. While the punk and hardcore riffs are jarring and unacceptable, these chugga-chugga breakdown riffs actually mold with the dub beat in a delightful way. But while the metal is tolerable, most of the rocking guitar riffs sound like early `90s alternarock and "Table Rock Dub" proves that Dub Trio is their best when they're the most traditional -- minimalist drums riding on the hi-hat and bass, droning bass and reverbing guitars. Besides "Yes You Can't," a minute-long hip-hop beat, the next few tracks are more of the same failed attempts at melding hard rock guitars and dub rhythms. When the band actually breaks down into the dub, the grooves are worthy of the greats, it's just everything else they add into it that brings the album down.

"Sunny I'm Kill" is another traditional track, a bit more upbeat and featuring a piano and melodica and quality studio manipulations, the heart and core of dub. "Screaming at the Sea" sounds like a Smashing Pumpkins song. But the surprise bonus on this album is "Cool Out and Coexist," a downtempo near-black metal double bass chugga track. The riffs are right on, and what makes the song good is the fact that the metal riffs aren't genre-bending -- they're just as dedicated to their genre as the classic dub.

Is it a good idea? Maybe. Is it executed well? Sorta. Does this band show a lot of promise? Yes.