Today Is the Day

Sadness Will Prevail

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Today Is the Day's previous studio album, In the Eyes of God, was a standout release, and part of what made it so was how well the bandmembers weaved the songs together with all the eerie interludes and sound bites, which actually complemented the way the album worked as a whole. It was an ambitious album, and they met the challenge. So for creatively restless leader Steve Austin, the only logical choice for a follow-up was to go whole hog and put out that classic statement of rock & roll ambition, a double album. Only Sadness Will Prevail is really more than that: with two discs clocking in at around two and a half hours, it's the equivalent of four standard-length vinyl albums, which is another way of saying it's really, really long. Unfortunately, it seems like Austin met his match this time around. Adjectives such as "sprawling" and "wide-ranging" may well apply, but there is no getting around the abundance of filler on these two discs. The foundation of Sadness... lies in the same math-metal/noise-rock style of the band's previous couple of albums, with Austin's layered, screaming vocals sounding as anguished as ever. In between these tracks are various interludes, ranging from repetitive, ostinato-based piano instrumentals to ambient/noise collages to spoken word samples (including a foul-mouthed rant by guilty father Mark Byers from the West Memphis Three documentary Paradise Lost). Some of these tracks work, but on the whole, they feel underdeveloped (one of them is simply the sound of an Internet modem dialing up) and in most cases end up slowing down the album's flow. On a sound-quality note, it is unclear why Austin, a skilled producer, chose to use such a treble-y mix on most of this album. Finally, while the rest of the band here does a solid enough job, they're not quite on par with the In the Eyes of God lineup (drummer Brann Dailor and bassist Bill Kelleher, who went on to form Mastodon). There are still some strong moments: "Magick" is a creepy math-metal workout on par with In the Eyes of God's better moments, "Death" is a moving quieter number with clean singing and beautiful violin accompaniment, and "Control the Media" and "Answer the Phone" both have some fine extended instrumental passages. However, it takes patience and some digging to find these highlights, and most likely only really dedicated fans will be up to the task.

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