Today Is the Day
posted on 1/2008 By:
Alright, so this is a reissue of Today is the Day’s groundbreaking 1994 Willpower full-length. If, like most metalheads, you’ve already heard this band and decided that you hate them/they don’t tremolo pick enough/they’re “gay,” then that’s fine. As I’ve said in prior reviews of Steve Austin and co.’s works, that’s exactly the reaction the band is trying to evoke from most listeners, so knock yourself out ranting about how this shit is just noise and no sane person would ever listen to it. The back button on your browser is located above and to the left of this text.
For those (mis)fortunate among you with whom this band strikes a chord, this is among the rare re-releases that actually serves an identifiable purpose. Originally released on the notorious Amphetamine Reptile records, Willpower has been out of print for years and generally went for $60+ on eBay and was otherwise impossible to get ahold of until Austin himself re-released it on his own SuperNova label. Those of you who’ve been looking for a reasonably priced copy of this disc for years have probably already snapped this up, and congrats to you all.
Those of you who haven’t, and especially anyone interested in the more dissonant end of metal/hardcore, would do well to get a-snappin’. This album and its predecessor, Supernova, had an immeasurable and surprisingly unheralded influence on the development of extreme music over the last ten years; suffice to say everyone from Gorguts to The Dillinger Escape Plan to Blut Aus Nord owes at least a little to these seminal releases. Where the band’s better-known output on Relapse Records is psychotic but fundamentally metal in style, Willpower is an exhibition of immeasurably fucked-up noise rock that’s preposterously intense but devoid of metal’s more traditional hallmarks. Marrying King Crimson’s cerebral discordance and tricked-out songs with the blown-fuse rage of Black Flag, the original Today is the Day lineup laid into the listener with as much emotional fervor as technical prowess. Austin’s guitar lines shun power chords for grinding noise while his vocals go from whisper to warble to nails ‘n’ chalkboard wail. His rhythm section (as awesomely skilled then as now) hemorrhages weird accents and impenetrable time signatures, all without blasts or double bass. Hefty use of movie samples help accentuate Today is the Day’s long-running themes of self-determination, wounded emotions, and aneurism-inducing hatred. All this went down while most of heavy metal was caught up in ripping off Morbid Angel, Pantera or Darkthrone and hardcore was still mostly a punk subgenre. Willpower was, in short, a mite ahead of its time.
There’s a bit of icing on the cake, too. This re-release comes with two bonus tracks. The first is a noodly, echoey guitar-only snippet of “Amazing Grace” that’s over too quickly to matter much, but the second is a previously-unreleased cut from the Willpower recording sessions called “Execution Style,” and it’s a doozy. As one might expect, the song is a corrosive mess of harmonics, hi-hat prestidigitation, and those trademark mental-ward-circus melodies. In other words, it’s pure early Today is the Day.
I’m not sure what else needs to be said. If you hate this band then you probably already know it and stopped reading five hundred words ago. If you don’t hate them, then you probably love them. And if you love them and you haven’t heard this beast of a record, then, well…I’m sure you see where I’m going. Great band, great album, refreshingly useful re-release.
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