For Fans Of
When it comes to the ever-popular djent-meets-nu-metal-meets-rap-and-hip-hop hybrid sound of this decade, few do it as well as Sydney’s DVSR do. That’s actually a fact and to quote Rick Sanchez, I can prove it mathematically. This is achieved by DVSR’s confluence of using a sharp, old-school rap vocal approach; having enough groove and bounce for the nu-metal loving crowds to lap up; featuring enough hip-hop elements so that non-heavy music fans can be swayed; showing just enough instrumental technicality, djenty guitar tones and jagged rhythms for the “real” metal fans to enjoy; and dropping a suitable amount of breakdowns for the fuckers who just came to mosh. It’s the best of all worlds, really. This was all true when the then five-piece dropped their kickass self-titled debut album back in 2015, was also true when the now quartet put out their bitchin’ 2016 single ‘Bad Company‘ and is still true now in November 2017 with the silence-breaking release of their ‘Therapy‘ EP earlier this week.
Formerly but still colloquially known as Devastator (just some history for those who missed the memo about this band’s name change a while back), DVSR have hit back with a real vengeance on this wicked, no-bullshit EP – both musically and lyrically. Regarding the former aspect, the insanely air-tight and bouncy rhythm section of machine-like drummer Matthew Nekic and the thick, rumbling low-end lines of bassist Julian Frank Ellul puts guitarist Andrew Stevens in a prime position to drop beefy chugs, crunchy riffs and eerie, atmospheric melodic leads all over the joint. Frontman Matthew Youkhana then propels this tight instrumental bedrock along with his fire-spitting rapping; a position and style of music that Youkhana has the perfect vocal timbre for.
For much like actual rap and hip-hop music, the vocal is just as much of an instrument as a song’s remaining arrangement and Youkhana knows this fact very well. Whereas their peers – Sylar, Darke Complex, Gift Giver, Hacktivist (ah yes, *that* old comparative chestnut) – opt for a mixture of screaming, clean singing and some elements of rap, DVSR consistently sticks to rapping. (Well, with the sole exception of some backing vocal melodies in ‘Detox‘ being the closest thing that Youkhana has come to actually singing, but whatever). This helps to keep their music direct, consistent and most importantly, impactful throughout. As such, there’s a real sense of energy and a true feeling of pace and groove to this band’s music, ‘Therapy‘ most definitely included. Which is what makes these Aussies stick out even more than they already do in the heavy music world and why their name still carries weight.
Another great thing about ‘Therapy‘ is there’s a finely-tuned balance between DVSR’s metal and hip-hop elements. For instance, the EP’s title track, opener ‘Endless‘, the dark ‘Detox‘, and gnarly lead single ‘Slave To The Beat‘ nail the group’s metal elements perfectly (no surprises there, really). On the flip side, the EP’s closing track ‘Ready For War‘ is as far and away from metal as DVSR have ever gotten; made up only of sub-bass, trap hi-hats, simple 4/4 drum machine beats, and Youkhana’s deadly vocal flow and bar-spitting performance driving the track forward. Then, in between these two extremes, the emotional lamentations of the short, emotional and melodic mid-EP cut ‘First-Degree‘ and the hip-hop hi-hats, booming subs and rap-flow in the verses of ‘The Devil In 95s‘ (as in, Air Max 95 shoes), prove that these dudes can mould their two extremes into something more developed than just metal music with rapping over the top of it. Something that they were already really fucking good at.
However, and while not a flaw, I will say that ‘Therapy‘ is still very much in line with what their previous release offered, yet it is still delivered with such damn fine execution and with such heaviness that I ain’t even fussed that it’s not that different from their debut album. Not only that, but mix and masterer engineer Buster Odeholm of Impact Studios (Oceano, Born Of Osiris, Enterprise Earth, and countless more) has really helped to give the band’s already well-balanced instrumentals a shiny polishing; bolstering DVSR’s lethal delivering of venomous rapped vocals, tight breakdowns and heavy-hitting riffs even further.
Getting back to the terrific dual fronts on which DVSR land with this EP that I mentioned earlier with the latter element of this release’s lyrics, ‘Therapy‘ is exactly that: a dark, honest therapy session put to tape, choked full of personal lyrics and close-to-home themes in the process.
Lyrically and thematically, these seven tracks fly through many topics that the band wish to get off their chests; whether as a matter of acceptance and catharsis, to provide relatability and comfort for the listener, or both. Ranging from moving beyond a past relationship and battling alcoholism, addiction and substance abuse during ‘Detox‘; rejecting the record label business model in favour of carving out your own path independently unless labels can actually offer proof their way works on ‘Slave To The Beat‘; to the rather obvious, in-vogue critiques yet nonetheless importnat disuccsion of the general fucked-up natruee of our modern world (social media toxicity, gross beauty standards, financial issues, etc.) on the title track and the removal of toxic persons from your life and reflection on your youth (‘The Devil In 95s‘); this EP covers a lot of thematic and tonal ground. And that’s not even considering the not-so-black-and-white personal tale of loss in ‘First-Degree‘ that Youkhana opens up about or the no-holds-barred aggressive attitude heard in ‘Endless‘ either.
With ‘Therapy’, DVSR are still the best in the whole goddamn game when it comes to this crossroads of hip-hop, rap and metal. This release is basically the musical definition of the flame emoji because truly, that’s what ‘Therapy’ is: pure fucking fire throughout. Of course, while I do find that there’s nothing here that quite rivals what these guys did with the utter bangers that were ‘Shutdown…‘ and ‘Unconscious‘, ‘Therapy’ is still a damned solid release. Simply put, DVSR are fucking back!