THE TONY DANZA TAPDANCE EXTRAVAGANZA ARE ANYTHING BUT BETA ON THE ALPHA THE OMEGA
In the same way there are alpha and beta males, there are alpha and beta metal albums. Each artist tries to write the best record, but some releases are watered-down rehashes that fail to get the job done. Others know they’re good, and don’t hesitate to emphasize that fact in their music. The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza’s Danza IIII: The Alpha The Omega is decidedly alpha, beating listeners over the head with its well-orchestrated cacophony.
Danza have refined their sound since their inception, gradually toning down their trademark frenetic noodling to make room for deathcore-styled heaviness and grooves. Now that they’ve tallied off their fourth (and final) release, they’re farther than ever from their first, and their maturation is most apparent.
That’s not to say the band have changed that much. Their songs are still relentless and unpredictable, but the tracks are now written with impressive organization. They’re a mixture of heart-wrenchingly low earworms, piercing alien high-end, and brief, unexpected moments of relief. But no matter what, the songs are easy to follow, and even the craziest passages don’t dissolve into confusion. Danza haven’t cut the blistering dissonance; instead, they’ve figured out exactly when it’s needed, and when it’s not. The use of cacophony is a touch more sparing, and that makes almost all of what we hear of it sound more intense, more special, and more recognizable. Heaviness is applied in the form of tightly pounding riffs, not loose chaos, again making those select moments of pandemonium more striking and effective.
More importantly, the songs are written in a way that allows the band to experiment without lessening their brutality. Token melodies sneak through the noise, giving the album a teaspoonful of melancholic beauty. It’s especially audible on tracks like the djenty instrumental “Paul Bunyan and the Blue Ox,” which could almost be a twisted Cloudkicker track. Swarms of effect-laden chromatics segue smoothly into thundering key-driven atmospheres. The title track similarly delves into exotic textures over its stop-and-start rhythms, melodies persisting despite the hurricane of blasts and guttural vocals. Experimentation bridges all the way to post-rocky closer “This is Forever,” but the band doesn’t treat the song lightly, allowing us to take it seriously despite its distinctly non-metal elements.
Danza’s bottom end is the single most unified element on The Alpha The Omega. There’s no denying that previous Danza releases are heavy, but on this release, increased production values coupled with the band’s absurd rhythmic precision give the music an extra oomph. It’s partially due to the band’s choice of gear — 8-strings impact the bottom end of mixes as much as drums and bass — but the record’s heaviness is primarily due to the fact that all the instrumentation on the album was performed by rhythmic mastermind Joshua Travis. The music’s cohesion is remarkable; it’s hard to imagine many bands writing this tightly. The production holds it all together, sounding gritty but professional, digital but uncompressed.
Of course, it’s not flawless. Danza fall into the trap of writing filler; the numerous samples begin to run together, decreasing the impact of songs like “Hold the Line.” And it’s almost impossible to sit through the entirety of the glitchy, gimmicky “Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid.” This isn’t a short release, so there’s no need for the extras – Danza could have shaved ten minutes off this thing and significantly improved the album’s flow. But filler doesn’t lessen the quality of the music, and every real track on the album absolutely crushes. Despite the slight bloat, The Alpha The Omega’s almost perfectly refined insanity makes it the most aggressive, the most dominant, the most confident, and the heaviest album of the year.