Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Days of Contraband

October 1, 2005

Band Name: Days of Contraband
Album Name: S/t
Best Element: Mosh-inducing rock frenzy.
Genre: Post-grunge
Website: www.myspace.com/daysofcontraband
Label Name: N/a
Band E-mail: deathrocket@hotmail.com

I’ve been following Days of Contraband for a while. If you read this site enough, you’ll know that there’s a lot of bands that I follow. I’m a music freak, okay? Days of Contraband stuck out to me because of their punk-fueled post-grunge blast with the power to make you stand up and ask “who is that playing?” The only problem they had (and they had it for a long time) was no singer.

This actually helped them in the long run, because as they spent two albums gritting it out without vocals, they learned to make their music extremely exciting on its own. When you take the complex, intricate, exciting rock that they learned to make and add the ear-dazzling new vocalist Brandon Hall, there is no way that Days of Contraband can escape getting famous. It’s coming for them.

The reasons are all laid out in the stand-out track (and opener) “Crimson Death Sky.” The intro is sampled- sounds of war. You know you’re in for some rock. The dual guitars hit, and even though they’re winding and intricate, they rock. The verses are full of restraint, as a drum roll and some clean guitars accompany calm vocals. The chorus is amazing, as the distortion kicks in, two guitars lay out intricate lines, and the vocals burn with furious passion above them. The range is shiver-inducing, and you must sing along. The drumming is fantastic throughout- perfectly timed and extremely fast, it forms the backbone for this barnburner. They’re not done yet- there’s still a group-yell section (I love group yelling), and a signature DoC instrumental section that shows they haven’t lost their roots. It’s passionate, extremely creative, and it’s got ‘hit’ written all over it. I wish I ran the radio.

“The Great Escape” has the best instrumentals on the album, as the chemistry locks into place and Days of Contraband just tears up the song. The vocalist fits in right on top with his howling voice and it’s another great song. The inclusion of a hardcore breakdown and more group-yelling cements this one in my mind. “Heros and Legends” (sic) features the most complex instrumental arrangement on the album, with manic bass riffing, odd drum patterns, and weird guitar lines vaguely reminiscent of Coheed and Cambria. They even showcase some metal vocals on the closer “Bullets for Breakfast”, proving that Days of Contraband is at its best when it’s at its heaviest.

Although the highs are high, there are a few snags along the way. Hall is a good, strong vocalist, in command of a large range, solid tone, and a good scream. The downside is that if he’s backed up by music that’s too high for his range (“First Blood”, “The Love on Death Day”), he starts to revert towards the pop-punk singer tone. The flaw isn’t fatal, as he doesn’t go all the way into a trite whine, but it’s just enough to possibly turn off some potential listeners to the greatness that is Days of Contraband.

But overall, people will be floored by Days of Contraband. There’s not a filler song on this EP, and that’s extremely tough to do in the genre of post-grunge rock. Throw up your fist and start the mosh- Days of Contraband have what you want and they know it.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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