Who doesn’t like Don Caballero? I mean, yeah, there are the losers who don’t like them, but we shouldn’t really include them, because they suck. Don is infamous for their spastic, free form math rock and apparently thrilling live performances. Throughout the years the band pulled a Massive Attack and varied both members and styles between albums and touring. Finally, in 2000, after touring for their last studio album “American Don”, Don Caballero died. It was sad; everybody cried. Then in 2003, one of Don Caballero’s founding fathers (and most consistent member) Damon Che formed a pentagram out of a thirteen year-old boy’s blood and with the help of 3/4’s of Philly’s pseudo-mathrock wannabees Creta Bourzia chanted and hummed Don back to life! This really happened, except for the part with the pentagram formed from children’s blood and the ceremonial chanting. For the next few years, the new Don Caballero toured and wrote new songs for the 2006 release “World Class Listening Problem.” Now we all know when the dead is resurrected, the rebirth can be horrific and scarring, and the undead ultimately becomes a demonic creature that succumbs to unrestrained violence and unquenchable bloodlust. Now if this creature also played music, the guitars would get louder, the chords would turn from starlight to lightning, and the drums would be replaced with the sound of shattering femurs and caving skulls.

Being the band’s first release on renowned hardcore/metal label Relapse, “World Class Listening Problem” expectedly has a very heavy influence from metal. Che’s frantic double kick drumming has never seemed more appropriate–or is it a little too appropriate? With the addition and (over-)abundance of hard-hitting metal chords comes the partial disintegration of Don Caballero’s initial mystique and complexity. When Caballero consisted of guitarists like Ian Williams (of Battles) and Mike Banfield (Knot Feeder) there was an allure to their spastic yet flagrant use of their fx pedals and uncanny ability to play all over the place, hitting notes indiscriminately, yet ultimately, the sounds would always meld into a beautiful mosaic of sound. The band’s replacements (Jeff Elsworth, Gene Doyle, and Jason Janover) fall short of completely filling the old band’s shoes. Their monotonous guitar twanging doesn’t create and/or maintain the pomp and flare that the old group could wield as they destroyed your expectations and hopes and dreams.

With Che being the only original member left, the music tends to focus on him for most of the album. Che’s drumming has always been a focal point for the band’s brash, hard-hitting mathiness, but it was never showcased in such pontification. The first track on the album, “Mmmmm Acting, I Love Me Some Acting” is essentially a killer five-minute drum solo, decorated with a few heavy metal power chords. But what this new DC lacks in spunk and unpredictability, they make up for in power and ferocity.

For this album, Che has been transformed into a vicious warlord, leading his bloodthirsty Mongelesque warrior into battle, and while he pounds out each song into a pulpy slop, the rest of the band stomps their way through the corpses and devastation by way of metal power chords, repetitive twangs, and fairly simple but effective progressions. The songs are not nearly as epic as past Caballero odysseys, but they carry their own wake of destruction, and are not to be taken lightly.

Now don’t get me wrong, this album kicks ass. You should go out and buy it if you like this band, and even if you don’t you’ll probably like it. But I guess it’s just tough love that I have for ol’ Donny. I want the old Don Caballero back but you can’t always get what you want, when it comes to necromancing. So I get what I get, and it’s much, much better than not having them back at all. All in all, Don Caballero died a god, and came back a drooling, murderous psychopath that will stop at nothing to tear out your heart and feast upon your unborn children–not a terrible change.

buy this album?: http://shop.relapse.com/store/cart.aspx

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