ALBUM REVIEW: Today Is the Day – No Good To Anyone
by James River
Album release date: February 28, 2020
Genre: Noise rock/Avant-Garde metal
The Tennessee noise rock/avant-garde metal veterans have released another solid album. Today Is the Day’s latest album, “No Good To Anyone,” is something of a cinematic endeavor. This album sees the band doing more with atmosphere and less with crowding the songs using riffs in weird, crazy time signatures. Primary songwriter and frontman, Steve Austin, continues to put out quality material and shows no sign of slowing down despite a car accident and Lyme disease. The title track, “No Good To Anyone,” opens the album with a really sludgy, doom riff with sinister spoken vocals layered on top. Almost 30 years into his career, Steve Austin has no right to come up with a riff this infectious. It is such a fantastic main riff, but it doesn’t overstay its welcome. The song transitions back and forth between this riff and a black metal-esque verse with great vocal layering of both spoken and screamed vocals. This song flip flops between foreboding and intensity without ever seeming too long or repetitive. The track ends with a minute of feedback that is very reminiscent of Sadness Will Prevail. This is a fantastic opening track and a high standard to open the album. One of my personal favorites is the track, “Son of Man.” This one starts out with a really heavy, drawn out groove. It is ominous and badass all at once. The song marches along on this one headbangable groove before launching into some amazing synth work. It is absolutely captivating, and it feels like something straight out of a horror film. The song is only made more unnerving by some weird vocal layering that almost makes it feel schizophrenic in a sense. This song is followed by the really fun, “Burn in Hell.” This track is another groove-oriented song. It features this really sludgy, heavy riff that will get anyone moving. Perhaps the best part of the song is the chorus. Taking the lyrics of the chorus out of context would make any parent turn their head. But when it comes to the lyrics of the song as a whole, it maintains a wise message of watching out for the vices of fame and rock. The song pivots in the last minute to a really fast and intense explosion of sound. This part echoes some of the sounds on later Today Is the Day releases such as, Axis of Eden and Pain is A Warning. The track, “Orland,” is really the turning point of the album. This is a brief piano interlude written and performed by Steve Austin’s son. It is much slower and somber compared to the songs that preceded it. This is the point on the album where the songs leave more of the intense sound and move onto some softer material. The first of these tracks is “Cocobolo.” This song continues with some of the cinematic elements of previous tracks. But instead of being horror themed, it has more of a Cowboy-western feel to it. This change in feel could be potentially hazardous to killing the overall atmosphere of a record. But Steve Austin managed to sprinkle in some of these elements in the early tracks, such as “Attacked By an Angel.” So, the resulting overall feel of the album is a mix of haunting and Cowboy-esque that manages to bridge the gap in a way that neither feels out of place on the record. The softest song on the record is, “Callie.” This is supposedly about Austin’s dog who passed away. The song starts with soft guitars that fade in and move onto a sad, but pretty riff in the minor key. Like Cocobolo, it has the western feel to it but with even softer singing that comes across as tender and sincere. While it’s not my favorite on the album, my only issue here is the drumming. For me, it feels a bit out of place in parts and perhaps could have been left off the track entirely. The album later moves into the track, “Mercy.” This track has a real stoner feel to it and the spoken vocals help create a really hypnotizing groove. This song creates a tense atmosphere that feels like something is going to come up. It is not super heavy, but it feels like waiting for the jump scare in the film. The jump scare rears its head in the last minute when it breaks out into a riff that sounds eerily similar to “The Stroke” by Billy Squier. It still manages to finish on a strong note with some epic double bass at the end to leave any metalhead happy. The penultimate track, “Mexico,” starts out with the industrial sample of the other transitional track, “Agate.” This is a nice callback that helps make things feel all connected. As the sample plays, creepy synths are slowly layered on top which make it sound like a proper horror theme. It then launches into the main guitar riff, which sounds very similar to that one riff in Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” But the vocal melody is its own thing, and the track has a really experimental feel to it. It feels really soothing in a weird, depressing sort of way and features some great chord progression. The track ends with just the vocals and reminds the listener that this has not been a soothing album. The final track is, “Rockets and Dreams.” It starts off with a very creepy intro filled with bells, reverb, and acoustic guitars. It creates a great creepy atmosphere for the track before it starts up with the acoustic guitars. The song has a bit of a dirge feel to it and features some of that western feel as well. The somber vocals and the overall atmosphere of the track make it a sort of cinematic ballad. The song fades out halfway through before moving into industrial noise sounds that are reminiscent of Swans. The last 4 minutes of the album are very sample heavy, yet ambient and somber. The last minute includes a brief cover of the star-spangled banner melody that gets more distorted and abrasive before being cut off. This is definitely something of a callback to the Today Is the Day album, Willpower, which ended in a similar fashion. Overall, this is a great album and is tough to rank against other Today Is the Day releases. That’s because most of them are of a similar high caliber. The one thing that could have been a detriment to this release is the album length. But then again, this is coming from the band that once gave you a 2-and-a-half-hour release. So, I think it’s safe to say that they don’t care about what you think of their album lengths. This is a band that puts out albums of passion because they’re invested in the songs and not the sales figure. Today Is the Day is one of those bands that if you’ve never listened to them before, there isn’t a wrong place to start.