Artist: Shot Down Stay Down
Album: Dodge This
There’s a lot to say for subtlety. Some situations call for carefully calculated actions—those times when even the slightest misstep results in complete deviation from whatever plan might have existed previously. Other times, however, subtlety and strategy can be thrown to the wayside, and brute, blunt force becomes the only surefire way to accomplish your goal. The key lies in knowing when to distinguish between the two—when subtlety is appropriate and when brute force is simply garish and unbecoming (and vice versa.) Things get more complication when either approach is equally effective in reaching the desired end—which is where Dodge This by deathcore act Shot Down Stay Down comes into play. Dodge This has both bone-cracking brutality and clever, talented musicianship—all the simplicity of bashing the listener’s head in with a sledgehammer, with all the ingenuity of carefully dissecting it with surgical equipment.
Dodge This begins like a mallet hit to the head—with two brief tracks that provide very little but unrequited aggression and relentless bitterness. These two tracks—“How Do You Like Me Now?” and “Statement” serve to highlight the band’s penchant for the obscenely hostile. Boisterous, pummeling drumming simply tears chunks out of the listener’s flesh in perfect synchrony with the grinding, chunky bass tones which kick and jab in time with the booming kick drum. Shot Down Stay Down don’t limit their aggression to the percussive attacks on the introductory songs, however—“Tyrants” is a track so filled with violence and anguish that it takes no time at all for it to reach into the listeners chest and wrench and claw at their heart. The attacks of the sharply mixed, yet muddy and chugged downtuned guitar combined with the sheer visceral force behind the track’s skull-splitting screams is nothing short of raw, perverse anger. Likewise, “Degenerate” ends Dodge This with a bang—a booming, cracking gunshot which the listener cannot avoid; only sit back and accept as their brains liquefy and coat the walls surrounding them.
All this constant stabbing, slicing, tearing and shredding of Dodge This’ breakdown-laden aggression might get repetitive or old, were it not the band’s ability to include intricate riffs and jaw-dropping technicality where the listener least expects them. Amidst the chaos of “The Riddler’s Last Riddle,” for example, just when it seems as if the track will collapse from bottom-heavy chugging and top-heavy screeching screams, there lays salvation in the form of fantastic fretwork. Riffs that sound almost as if they could have been in As Blood Runs Black’s Allegiance, attack the listener’s ears, providing a full-bodied structure to the track—which not just saves it, but makes it one of Dodge This’ stronger songs. This sort of surprise technicality tends to rear its head regularly throughout Dodge This—a split-second solo here or jarring, gut-wrenching blast beats there help bring depth and freshness into a release which could have gotten slow and stagnant. “Dodge This” includes a series of grotesque grooves and riffs so catchy that they shouldn’t be allowed within 50 feet of a hospital. Additionally, even the introductory snippet “Statement” includes a catchy, thrashy riff which gets hooked in the listeners ear and wedges itself tightly into the crevices of their brain. This innate technicality mixed with bludgeoning heaviness combine to create a dangerous dynamic which puts Shot Down Stay Down at the top of the deathcore game.
Shot Down Stay Down don’t play around—they attack the listener with an absolutely ruthless combination of heaviness and talented musicianship which forces the listener to put them on repeat for days. Brute, blunt heaviness serves as a jackhammer, slamming and driving their technically-wrapped package of hate and misanthropy into the listener’s ears. From the get-go with the short-but-sweet “Statement,” all the way through “Degenerate,” a combination of skin-splitting screams and gut-busting growls gets swaddled in noodling, low bass riffs and grimey, intense shredding guitar and slammed home with break-neck drumming. The effect is nothing but intrusive in the best way possible—Dodge This simply begs to be listened to again and again, with each spin revealing more technical riffing layered behind choppy, crisp grooves or furious, fleet fills in between plodding, heavy drum lines.
The first shot? Jarring heaviness to drop the listener to the floor. The second shot? A double-tap of cutthroat technicality to make sure the listener’s lifeforce bleeds out onto the pavement. Shot Down Stay Down hit with this vicious and effective one-two punch to deliver Dodge This, a vulgar, punishing deathcore album which simply cannot miss.
For Fans Of: Bound by Exile, As Blood Runs Black, Martyr Defiled, Black Tongue
By: Connor Welsh