With a roar and the crunch of frantic guitars, DIY punk/metal/hardcore/experimental act Down-Stares kicks your ass. A true band on a mission with a van full of empty beer cans and invigorating ideas, this Texas quintet is one of the hardest working bands on the rock scene today. Their effort is evident on their latest release, Cobras and Matadors.
Having been self-releasing albums and touring insistently since 2000, Down-Stares is slogging it out with the best of them and pushing their brand of metalcore/experimental rock to the top of the tangled limbs in the teeming pool of similar outfits. Standing out in a sea of same is hard work, but lead vocalist Simeon Hendrix’s eagerness pushes this group over the edge and on to dry land.
Beyond Hendrix's exuberance, this is an immeasurably tight group. The guitars of Brandt Holmes and Max Chandler offer powerful, zealous pleading beyond the customary wall-of-sound approach. The instruments play off each other, engaging in a warts-and-all melodic conversation. Drummer Jessie Brashear and bassist Brandon Lewis hold it down with precision.
Cobras and Matadors, released on the wonderfully-named T. Rex Ate My Face Records, contains a broad spectrum of songs ranging from the beautiful to the brutal. This is a concrete record from start to finish.
“264 Roselawn” starts things off with hammering, adamant drums and Hendrix’s vocals taking flight with deep growls, shouting, and affectionate melodic passages. The song describes a spiritual journey with metaphors and direct language clearly summing up how the vocalist feels. “Protect me father, I am only human!” Hendrix intones over swirling guitars.
Other tracks cover analogous themes, infusing a sense of spirituality with songs about family, touring, and relationships.
“Speed Dial” opens with a head-nodding groove accented by Lewis’ bass. Brashear’s drums punctuate every note, but never dominate the mix. Hendrix knits a tale of necessity and fascination that sounds sweet but could just as likely not be. “Why won’t you answer?” he repeats over the mesmerizing melody.