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Today Is The Day - "Pain Is A Warning" (CD)

Today Is The Day - "Pain Is A Warning" CD cover image

"Pain Is A Warning" track listing:

1. Expectations Exceed Reality
2. Death Curse
3. Pain Is A Warning
4. Wheelin'
5. The Devil's Blood
6. Remember To Forget
7. Slave To Serenity
8. This Is You
9. Samurai

Reviewed by on August 5, 2011

"'Pain Is A Warning' lives up to its title by drenching the listener in napalm-fueled intensity and an uncertain dread of what's around the corner."

There’s Prog – ironically, a developed subgenre with its own set of conventions and clichés – and then there’s truly progressive. Few bands deserve that tag more than Today Is The Day, whose relatively unassuming name deceptively masks the twisted, psychotic musical violence found within their recordings.

After nearly two decades and eight studio albums, Today Is The Day is back with their ninth, “Pain Is A Warning,” which deserves to rattle the conventional wisdom and complacent assumptions within the heavy music scene and shake it to its foundation. A nine-track journey through a deadly, unpredictable musical minefield, “Pain Is A Warning” lives up to its title by drenching the listener in napalm-fueled intensity and an uncertain dread of what’s around the corner.

Vocalist/guitarist Steve Austin (the group’s only consistent member and its longtime musical visionary) throws in everything but the kitchen sink. Heavy doses of metal, grindcore, punk, psychedelia, and progressive rock collide and clash in a vicious, snarling melting pot that never feels disjointed or slapped together; there’s nary a whiff of pretension or obligation in the myriad twists and turns of Austin’s songwriting. It all feels uniform and perfectly natural. The reason for this is simplicity – the seldom appreciated “less is more” approach. While the depth and breadth of Austin’s genre-bending vision may make him a maximalist, he’s a minimalist in its straightforward execution. The buzzing chainsaw riffs, squealing leads, distorted vocals, whispered chants, and hushed passages of ominous anticipation may add up to a full-course meal, but Today Is The Day is not what currently passes for a “technical” band, and is all the better for it.

“Pain Is A Warning” deserves at least a listen from anyone who likes his music loud, intense, chaotic, confrontational, weird, or all of the above – and ideally belongs in your CD collection. Whether truly progressive musicians are born or made is a debate topic for another time, but Steve Austin and his band deliver with a fresh, original, authentic voice. For music fans, that’s not something to be taken for granted.

Highs: "Expectations Exceed Reality," "Death Curse," and "Pain Is A Warning" set a standard for excellence for the rest to follow.

Lows: If the band's unpredictable and free-form style hasn't hooked you from the very start, they've already lost you.

Bottom line: By turns brutal and mesmerizing, a take-no-prisoners effort from one of underground metal's weirdest bands.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)