REVIEW: Tallah – The Generation of Danger [2022]

Artist: Tallah
Album: The Generation of Danger

Everyone has little quirks—unique things to them that accentuate (or define) their personality. One of mine—and what a great many would probably consider to be a glaring personality flaw—is that I don’t really like much in the way of conventional nu metal. That in and of itself it’s too weird, but its maybe a little unusual given how much I love everything that style of music gave birth to, from the Alpha Wolfs and Sworn Ins to the Omértas, Yuth Forevers and Darke Complexes. Don’t know why, but the “OG” nu metal acts just never really resonated with me. This brings us to Tallah, who are definitely quirky, but also capture and distill so much of the original sound and feel of nu metal into their chaotic assault on the listener. The Generation of Danger is a remarkable testament to that, as it unleashes an hour of manic, ruthless intensity. Taking a backbone of bold, no-holds-barred traditional nu metal and infusing it with elements of metalcore, mathcore and a little je ne sais quoi, Tallah readily establish themselves as a truly unique outfit that stands to appeal to just about any fan of heavy music.

The Generation of Danger is relentless in just about every way you can imagine. From the very beginning of “Mud Castle” until the record’s very last track, the listener doesn’t really get any kind of meaningful break. At the heart of Tallah’s breakneck dynamic is steamrolling, devastating percussion. Songs like the spastic “Dicker’s Done” or “Stomping Grounds” establish the band’s drumming as thoroughly unpredictable. One second, the listener is being ravaged by machine-gun blast beats and light-speed fills. The next? A bouncy, energetic beat is leaping out the pocket to smack the listener squarely upside the back of the head. This is even true throughout Tallah’s longer songs, like the sprawling “Thistle” or the aforementioned “Dicker’s Done.” Both on the long side of five minutes, these songs see the band’s drumming work hand-in-hand with dense, groovy bass to keep things moving in a quick—and borderline ballistic—way. This same element of surprise is extended throughout the band’s instrumental element, including the band’s fretwork which can really be most reasonably described as spastic. “Wendrid” and “Dicker’s Done” see high-strung (bordering on strung-out) riffs segue into crushing breakdowns. Meanwhile, “Mud Castle” establishes a groove as catchy as It is dissonant, and “How Long?” Feels anthemic, looming almost as it towers over the listener with a slow, dismal build to a marvelously melancholic climax. It is perhaps in this way—the same way that ten-ton breakdowns a la deathcore can coexist with heavily System of a Down influenced sections—that Tallah defy the conventions of what would otherwise be run-of-the-mill new nu metal (nu-nu metal? Nu-squared metal?). The Generation of Danger is a true chimera, especially where its instrumental elements are concerned, and this cliffhanger atmosphere is part of what keeps listeners so thoroughly engrossed.

Then, there are the vocals. While they could be off-putting to some, they truly follow a similar trajectory as that established by the band’s immense instrumental effort. Most of the time, the listener gets a raw, grating mid-range scream with frequent oscillations into harshly spat pseudo-rapped verses and segments. In other words, par for the course when it comes to what might be expected. Out of nowhere, however, on songs like “The Impressionist,” the listener gets bombarded by a grizzly low bellow. Other songs—like “Of Nothing”—are home to a truly haunting spoken word segment that bookends the track. Then, there’s the aforementioned “How Long?” Which starts off akin to droning grunge ballad—and ends in a similar fashion, but takes an interesting route through anthemic arena metal and nu metal to get there. Maybe I’m just not well versed enough in the genre, maybe I’m not well cultured, whatever the case may be—I just haven’t heard much out there like Tallah, and that’s as true of the band’s hyperactive, hyper dissonant instrumentation as it is of the multifaceted and masterful vocal approach.

The Generation of Danger is an experience—a daunting one at that. While it is awesome and jaw-dropping in its own right, it’s also…well, a nearly-hour-long chaotic hardcore-turned-nu-metal-turned-metalcore record without much in the way of any reprieve for the listener. Because of that, it’s a little hard to get through in one listen, and with all the ground it does cover, there are probably going to be parts that any given listener will find more skippable than the rest. Me? Well, I’m mostly in it for the breakdowns—not gonna lie to you now—which means above all else I found myself revisiting the front half of the record more than the back half. Those in it more for the adventurous forays into nostalgic, rosy metallic territory might feel differently—but the result is that despite their impressive appetite and impressive skill, Tallah still find themselves stretched a little short across this dense hour of devastating, macabre metal. With that said, the band made a believer out of me—a convert, if you will—out of the realm of pure nu metal skeptic and into something a little…weirder. To figure out exactly what that is, I guess you’ll have to give The Generation of Danger a spin.

For Fans Of: Mouthbreather, Soulkeeper, Omertà, Darke Complex, Slipknot, System of a Down
By: Connor welsh