Killing Them Loudly: Death from Above 1979

The bass and the drum. No two instruments prove more complementary to one another than those two in particular. So hell, why not create a band that solely utilizes these two fundamentals? If the groove is right, and if one is confident in his or her ability to rock out without a shirt, then the lack of something like a guitar should prove to be a minor detail in the long run. The Toronto duo of Death From Above 1979 have once again given value to the age old axiom that "less is more." And while one may initially be skeptical of this drum and bass duo, the only convincing that is needed is for one to witness the raw energy these two guys give on stage.

In the last little while you may have noticed these odd posters of two scruffy male heads with elephant trunks for noses posted around the downtown area. Fret not, it's not some cult recruiting scam, but the logo of Death From Above 1979. I first saw these guys around this time last year in London (Ontario, that is). From what I recall, they were opening for Metric and I distinctly remember the exact moment: I was outside on the bar deck having a smoke when I heard a low end howling growl emanating from the insides of the bar. I remember it because it was so low and fierce, that I thought I had soiled myself. Obviously intrigued I worked myself inside to get a better look.

I was stunned. Making this behemoth sound was one guy behind a drum kit and another guy with a bass around his neck. Both of them sported long shaggy black hair and beards that demanded respect. The low howl that I heard was just a bass guitar, nothing more. Little did I know at the time, that vocalist/drummer Sebastien Grainger and bassist Jesse Keeler comprised this wall of sound called DFA 1979. I listened on, and was blown away by their onstage presence. Around me, I witnessed the regular metal fans with devil signs flailing in the air, but in addition to that, I saw the sensitive indie kids lay down their black rimmed glasses just long enough to punch the air as well.

And that was when I realized that these guys were going to break big by virtue of the fact that they weren't your typical metal thrash stoner rock band. Adding subtle dance grooves into the mix, combined with lyrics that told the tales of a more sensitive kind of metal guy who yearned to be in a committed relationship, these guys were out to break the mold. Of course, songs from their debut album You're a Woman, I'm a Machine possess the staple double time thrash that can be heard in "Cold War." But balancing this, are musical dynamics that incorporate dance punk groves, such as "Blood on Our Hands" and the cowbell dance anthem, "Sexy Results." And while a lot of heavy bands have the tendency to scream the lyrics, Grainger's vocals, while sometimes scream induced, are layered with melody, thus providing a full-on ear drum assault that the whole family can appreciate.

Ultimately, the sound they've created for themselves thus far is one that is huge. Keeler said that "we wanted our band to be like an elephant in your living room. That's why we gave ourselves trunks." Indeed, the masses seem to be receptive towards these elephant boys and the raw energy that they convey in their music and live shows. In the end, they're making believers by shattering one ear drum at a time.

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