Album: God Eat Dog – EP
Life isn’t fair. If you didn’t know that from day one you without a doubt learned it somehow, somewhere between adolescence and where you sit, now, reading this article. But just in case you missed it, and one more time for the people in the back—
Life isn’t fair.
In the absolute best case scenario, you have to grind your ass off to earn exactly what you put in. Worst case? You toil day-in, day-out, never once knowing privilege or luck. You wear away your fingers to the bone and get damn close to nothing back. It’s a dark, loathsome component of the human condition—and on their long-awaited sophomore release, New York City’s Newcomer make it abundantly clear. God Eat Dog is an unorthodox and intense display drawing from elements that cross the entire divide formed by the spectrum of heavy music. With segments designed to separate skin from bone, and portions that are eerie, almost industrial and gritty separated by a brash, bold metalcore backbone, Newcomer take the sound they formed on Rejection//Dejection and turn it upside down, sending the listener on a wild ride in the process.
God Eat Dog sees Newcomer take an unapologetic, DIY approach to bringing the listener out of their comfort zone—they do so on all fronts, but especially prominent is the unsettling and abrasive instrumentation that abounds. Percussionist Johnathan Lievano sets the tone, using an array of aggressive, straightforward patterns that don’t waste time with frivolity or fanciful progressive flair. Instead—and this is true from the first moments of “Redrum”—Lievano goes for the throat, much in tune with the rest of Newcomer’s instrumental element. With that said, some songs are more over the top and oppressive than others. Take, for examples, “Rwanda,” which harkens back to the days of Rejection//Dejection in a manner of ways, one of which being ruthless, rugged percussion that beats the listener into a pulseless pulp. Here, Lievano works excellently with bassist Alex Loparnos, and the duo create a cement-like foundation of fearsome brutality upon which guitarist Peter Martingano builds with fervor. Between Leivano’s percussion, Loparnos’ lurid bass and Martingano’s murderous, muddy fretwork, the trio capture a crushing primal vibe. This is present in snippets during “Redrum” and “Rwanda,” but dominates in “Gutsap” and “Cocaine Tears.” While the DIY element and production might hamper some listeners’ ability to find God Eat Dog as accessible as it’s predecessor, there’s no doubt that it mirrors the violent and visceral instrumentation and excels at making the listener feel truly uncomfortable and steeped in a gritty, backstabbing and brutal world.
Just as Newcomer’s musicianship stings of the poignant and very real pangs of reality, the group’s vocal element does as well—much in thanks to frontman Piantini Toribio. Toribio has a tremendous voice and blistering tone to match, prevalent from the eerie opener, “Redrum,” all the way through “Gutsap.” “Rwanda” especially sees Toribio throwing back to the “10 c” days of Rejection//Dejection, while “Home Sweet Gasoline” is just…fearsome. In this way, Toribio mirrors the primal nature of the EP’s immense musicianship—and similarly, makes the listener feel almost as if their skin is crawling. Whether Toribio’s lyrics are as catchy and contagious as they were on the band’s debut is up for debate; however there can be no argument that his skills have certainly stepped up, and his voice is as earnest and eviscerating as ever.
The entire theme of God Eat Dog is one that tears down the “escapist” nature of music—and instead of crafting a brilliant world to find themselves lost in, they’re found in a stark, surreal, cold and very real world. The other theme is one that—like it or not—compares the band’s latest release to their prodigal debut. Whether God Eat Dog leaves the same lasting impression on the listener as Rejection//Dejection is something only the future can really tell. With that said, God Eat Dog doesn’t try to be a rehash of Newcomer’s freshman release—instead opting to take the “DIY” mentality and transform it to a way of life. The result? A ferocious, carnivorous and ruthless collection of crushing songs that are, if nothing else, totally unique and completely unfiltered.
For Fans Of: Pry, Mercy Blow, I AM, Born a New
By: Connor Welsh