Monday, August 22, 2016

The Din - "Give In To The Din" CD Review!!

Let's help remedy our recent slow period with with our 86th monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, as we're taking a look at local alternative/hard rock trio The Din's debut studio album "Give In To The Din'"! Released on August 12th during their CD release show at The Tech, this is The Din's first studio album, but it does follow a live acoustic demo from earlier this year, plus a few free "albums" during their acid/jam beginnings, though no songs on this album are held over from the free releases. Recorded with one exception at Pretoria Hill Productions over the past year with producer Daniel Schmidt (guitarist Tammy Hill's father), The Din are represented here by frontman Mike Haggith on vocals, bass, and keyboard, Tammy on guitar, and Brandan Glew on drums and backing vocals. Copies of "Give In To The Din" are available at The Rad Zone, directly via band members, and in concert for around $10, and while the band has yet to announce full online availability, three songs can be heard at their Bandcamp page, and song titles are linked to public streaming copies where available. With 9 songs clocking in at around 38 minutes, let's begin with the opening track!

This CD begins with "In Search of the Perfect Moment", which has a fun, upbeat sound that calls to mind The Foo Fighters a bit, though the timing on the intro sounds a little off compared to live concerts. Mike's singing shows more of a light range than he's often showed live, where the choruses had lower vocal keys, which is an adjustment on first listen, but it's not a problem afterward. This is a good showcase of The Din's talents and songwriting skill, with the lyrics bearing some clear personal ties, and Tammy has a nice solo as well,and it's a solid sing-along number to kick off this album! That's followed by "Flux" (notably named by Brandan from a random thesaurus page), and this is a slightly harder edged song that showcases The Din's musical talent a little more in-depth, and I like the vocal melody! The constant cymbal percussion through the chorus isn't really needed (it sounds like someone's ringing a bell in the background), but Brandan gets a solid drum solo before the chorus, and the song should appeal nicely to fans of the members' heavier music backgrounds!

Third is "Alleyways & Apartments", which was notably recorded at Mission Control Studios with producer & Tidal Records founder Dustin Jones, and yes, the song is suitably well mixed and recorded! A softer and more mid-tempo song than what preceded it, this is strongly done with Mike's vocals coming through very crisp, and the same goes for his bass playing, while Tammy gets a strong, if abbreviated, guitar solo to boot. I like the instrumental layering here too, and though I do prefer their faster and heavier songs, this gets the job done! Fourth is "Out Of My League", which is a re-recording of a song from Mike's 2015 and latest solo CD "The Warinside". (which you can read our full review of at this link.) Compared to the original, The Din's version is less symphonic, heavier, better recorded, and less melancholy, helping the new version stand out on it's own even more, and I do prefer it! Dropping the twinkly closing stretch doesn't hurt either. Tammy has her best guitar solo yet, and The Din did a good job making this a fun, top listen on the first half of the album!

The next song is "75", which is another re-recording, this time from Mike's earlier grunge band Haggith, who originally recorded the song in 2013 with Mike on vocals & drums for their third album "Deuce" (you can read our review of it at this link as well.) The two versions are similar, though the new version has stronger production, is slightly faster, and the absence of backing vocals actually helps here. Lyrically about taking an aggressive stance against a person who isn't helping you in life, this was a fan favourite with Haggith, and The Din keep the hard edged intensity going here, with a slight pop sensibility, and it's welcome to hear in this tightened form! We return to songs originated by The Din with "Remember", which is by far the softest and most reserved song yet on this CD. Making expert use of Mike and Brandan's vocal harmonies, this song feels like a campfire jam had professional production, if that makes sense, though it ends somewhat abruptly, and I definitely prefer their harder, fuller songs just out of personal preference. It's well done though, especially for fans of Mike's softer side!

Song #7 is "Potato (Should Have Known Better)", which is also a re-recording, this time from Mike's 2014 solo album "A Place of Our Own", where it was titled "This Potato May Be Used As A Flotation Device" (read our full review at this link.) The new version of "Potato" is shorter (an album low, actually), more guitar driven, has cleaner production, and all but drops the heavy keyboard symphonics of the original. This gives the song a punk vibe and more band-suited sound, and I like the vocal melodies and Tammy's strong guitar work, from the opening riffs to her slow but dramatic guitar solo! For my tastes, this is a strong improvement, and always fun to hear in concert! Next is "The Rose", which is the last song on the CD that isn't a re-recording. A slower, more drawn out number, this still has a good energy from Mike's up-tempo singing, plus an extra crunch to the choruses helps break things up. The drawn out nature of the song isn't optimal for my tastes (especially the slow closing minute), but the deliberate melody and impassioned lyrics help this one stand up on it's own!

"Give in to The Din" closes with "A Drive Through The Peninsula", which is also a re-recording from Mike's "Warinside" album from last year. Again, this version dispenses of the symphonic elements of the original, though here in favour of just the core band. While it has stronger production and great guitar work, it maintains the mid-tempo sing along style of the original, but in this case, the song could actually use some filling out as a result, unlike on the other re-recordings. That said, it's actually almost twice as long as the original, with The Din filling out the previously 4:50 song with 3½ of extended instrumental jamming. I don't know whether you'd call it an homage to their acid jam era or not, but it gives a chance for Tammy to really let loose on guitar and show off more of her very clear skill, and both Mike and Brandan have some fun on bass and drums throughout as well, so this is a nice surprise for fans to cap off the album!

So, what are my final thoughts on "Give In To The Din"? Overall, this is a solid debut release for The Din, who put their cards on the table well as a skilled alt-rock outfit with clear chemistry and an entertaining sound that can be hard-edged, poppy, or introspective at will! Mike has really came into his own as a frontman with his deep yet diverse vocal style, his bass work matched up well, Brandan's drumming was steady and dependable, and Tammy remains an excellent find on lead guitar, adding a touch of flair and technicality throughout, and when she gets going, you can feel it! The choice to do re-recordings for almost half the album is somewhat of a gamble, but the new versions are all improvements that suit The Din's sound and themes, and Pretoria Hill Productions made a solid first foray into album production here too! Songs like "Flux", "75", and "Potato" are among my favourites for good reason, as they are in concert with fans, but the dinging cymbal percussion can be a distraction, the last song did sound empty at times, and given The Din's extended repertoire of songs from Mike & The Din's back catalogs, and new compositions, this album did feel a little short.

"Give In To The Din" is a very entertaining debut studio release from this fast-rising trio, and I'm sure they have even bigger material to come for round #2, so be sure to follow the band for details on their next shows, material, and more, and buy it A.S.A.P.! I hope you guys liked this month's CD review, and next month on the site, we will look at a new album of some description, likely either the now-defunct Long Shot's debut EP, or a recent SweetKenny album, though maybe a surprise new release will come along in the next month too? Stay tuned for more next month, for this month's YouTube Channel Profile later this week, and for more news and notes shortly! Thanks everyone!

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