Daughters – Hell Songs

Hell Songs

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few years, you’re probably already aware of the Providence, RI group Daughters. Already the most polarizing grindcore band since The Locust, Daughters is managing to alienate as many fans as it garners. The release of Canada Songs in 2003 cemented the act into the playlists of just about any hardcore, metal, or noise enthusiasts with 10 minutes (the length of the entire full-length) to spare.

The haters will begin by telling you how much they loathe Lex’s vocals on Hell Songs. Anyone paying attention would’ve already noted that a few of these vocals were already there on Canada Songs, and by the time the band’s version of “Marry Me (Lie, Lie)” appeared on Three One G’s Release the Bats tribute to The Birthday Party, it was apparent that these guys were extremely reluctant to be pigeonholed as some run-of-the-mill grind act.

So what do the vocals sound like now? Gone are the manic shrieks of Canada Songs in favor of Nick Cave-esque howls circa The Bithday Party. Any moronic scene kid that doesn’t know shit about music will try and say that it sounds like he’s drunk or some television evangelist. These kids have obviously never heard The Birthday Party, a group that informed a considerable amount of the tight pants, dyed black hair, white belt set before the style was co-opted. Nearly all of the Gravity Records, Three One G, and GSL records rosters have been considerably influenced by the early goth sounds of Bauhaus, The Cure, and The Birthday Party. So you can make fun of Peter Murphy all you want for hanging upside down like a bat, but the fact is that those arty hardcore bands found something fiery and potent in In the Flat Field, Pornography, and Junkyard. So it comes as no surprise to me that Daughters would want to mainline some of that doom-laden filth into their own evil music.

Musically, Hell Songs is more of the same: insanely high-pitched guitar work that hits your ears like a million needles, 1000 miles-per-hour blast beats, and distorted bass grooves. Apart from some violin and brass on a few parts, you won’t find anything out of line coming from the heart of the band. So do the vocals make that much of a difference? Yes and no. On the one hand, the group has enough fans that are starving for something different, and Daughters are trying to show them the way. On the other hand, now instead of sounding like The Locust, the group sounds like another of its contemporaries, Ex-Models. Now I’m not knocking Daughters for sounding like either of these bands, it’s just that they aren’t doing anything groundbreaking here.

What it all comes down to is this, do you care? Do I care? No. Hell Songs is a great grindcore record. While fans of Canada Songs may be initially disappointed, I highly encourage repeated listens to ease the adjustment.