2 out of 5
Label: New Damage
Produced by: Dub Trio?
Hot crapping Christ, what a friggin’ snooze, or, in response to the album title: I hope not.
As often happens when I have an overly negative reaction to a release by a band I have heretofore dug, I’ll go back and give their catalogue a spin to see if I missed some red flags. So, with Dub Trio – the meet-up between metal and dub that sounds lame but has worked so, so well – that’s a jump eight years back to their album IV, then Another Sound Is Dying, Cool Out and Coexist, New Heavy, and back to their debut, Exploring the Dangers Of, when the group was at their dub-iest and electronic-iest.
No red flags.
I don’t get much mileage out of the early stuff, but Dub Trio always had an edge – a live, raw, freshness to their playing that energized what are generally somewhat standard tunes. Standard in the sense that you could guess when the breaks were going to come, and once you’re inured to the dub element, it’s predictable as well, but then there was that bite that just made it sound pretty damn good and occasionally – Another Sound, IV, when the guitars and low-end are jacked up to extremes – damn great.
Subtract that live feel and you get the studio wash of The Shape of Dub To Come. Opener World Of Inconvenience (featuring King Buzzo vocals) is probably the most intense track here, but it’s notable that it starts to wear thin even at five minutes. This leads into a very typical Dub Trio-type track, Spyder – dub breaks with squalls of crawling guitar chords – but then give it that knob-twiddled polish and suddenly ‘typical’ is pretty boring. It sounds like a Dub Trio cover band. Troy Sanders appearing on the next track encourages the group to pick up the pace, making them sound like a generic rock band (and Sanders, not buffered by Mastodon dynamics, like a typical vocalist…).
I don’t even know what’s going on on the rest of the album, except I’m sure there was a desire to do something “different,” which I guess meant writing Mogwai tracks. But guess what? There are a ton of Mogwai-esque bands already, and I’m not a big Mogwai fan in the first place.
Some choice riffs / breakdowns emerge here and there, but it all sounds very cleaned up and staid. I was danged excited by the prospect of a new Dub Trio disc after a lengthy break, but this current iteration just feels too watered down to me. The penultimate Computery suggests an interesting middleground between electronics, dub-lite, and instrumental rock, and that might be a way forward… which means I’d likely buy a next album, should it happen, to see if that shape of dub to come is any more formed by then.