Today is the Day – Animal Mother (Southern Lord)Tuesday, 9th December 2014
A workhorse, who despite countless career setbacks (including this most recent terrible van accident), has managed to remain standing, Today is the Day mainman Steve Austin wouldn’t be blamed for giving the towel the ‘ole heave-ho after so many years slugging it out. The band’s standing in the scene has always been a bit mixed; their Relapse years bringing forth a couple of stellar outings, partially overshadowed by the loss and subsequent emergence of former members Brann Dailor and Bill Kelliher in Mastodon. Since then, it’s a been a mixed bag for Austin and his revolving door of cohorts, with Animal Mother finding a home on Southern Lord, their third label in as many albums.
In spite of the constant swirl of change, however, Austin’s identifiable tone and angular riffs remain a constant. The band’s sound – a combination of noise, hardcore, and crust(ed) metal – shows no sign of aging and mangled bones, as evidenced by the album’s opening title track, which is suitably punchy and spirited. The distorted-beyond-distorted tone of Austin’s vocals give them extra froth, something that comes in handy on quick, in-and-out cuts such as “Imperfection” and the quite rollicking “Heathen,” which is supremely heavy. Additional tracks of note include the swirling “Mystic” (featuring some rather warped vocals from Austin), the Killing Joke-esque “The Last Stand,” and the acoustic-based “Bloodwood,” a song that harkens back to the band’s Relapse period.
Generally, a Today is the Day album is accompanied by some degree of morose and apathy, which certainly applies here. Austin doesn’t have any issue with being warts-and-all, something that for other, less-hardened chums, may come across as insincere, but not here. Animal Mother, in turn, retains a commendable blend of desperation and ageless spirit, the type of album you may not find anywhere else. Makes sense – there’s only one Today is the Day.