REVIEW: Dangerkids – Collapse

Artist: Dangerkids
Album: Collapse
Genre: Hard Rock

Thirteen years ago this September I was sitting at home after school watching MTV when a new band was introduced into my life by the name of Linkin Park. Their single at the time was “One Step Closer,” and though nobody knew it right then that song would soon become one of the biggest rock singles of the last twenty-five years. The sound offered was somewhere between rock and rap, but with a very distinct heavy edge that left you on your toes throughout. I became a fan, and for the next twelve years that followed I never heard another band come along with a similar sound that had anything worthwhile to offer. That is, until Dangerkids came into my life.

In the fall of 2012 a YouTube video was sent my way from a then unknown group by the name of Dangerkids. I initially wrote them off because of their name and how it brought to mind the seemingly endless number of Rise Records signee wannabes with similar cutesy names who try to make ideas Austin Carlile used 5 years ago sound original, but was beyond pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong when their music began to play. This wasn’t the kind of demo that played like a group of pseudo-musicians attempting to hop on a trend, but rather like a polished recording from seasoned vets who had a vision for what they wanted to do. I fell in love instantly and knew they would find success if given the chance to deliver their music without any outside influence. Rise Records gave them that opportunity, and the result is their fantastic debut album Collapse.

Opening with the fittingly titled “Countdown,” Collapse wastes absolutely no time grabbing your attention. Electronic effects give way to a full band sound that ushers listeners into the record with a welcoming energy that is maintained throughout the majority of the album. The group’s sound finds balance between alt and hard rock, with elements of hip hop and EDM blended in for flavor, and it’s all put on display with this track. I won’t go as far as to say your opinion of this track will be a good indicator of your feeling towards the entire album, but it will certainly be close.

As Collapse plays on, the early fan favorite, “Light Escapes,” stands out as a potential mega-hit. It’s known by longtime followers, but still serves as a fitting introduction for the unfamiliar, with a perfectly concocted blend of everything the group has to offer jammed between hooks anyone can learn in a single play. Some may think its appearance here is a bit unwarranted given how long it’s been online, but it works so well as a companion to the opener that I doubt many will complain.

“Hostage” ushers in the heavier side of the album with chugs and growls to spare. It plays like Linkin Park’s “Bleed It Out” had a love child with the catchiest songs off In Fear And Faith’s Imperial, but even its heaviest moments are nothing compared to the instant blast of energy you feel when its follow-up, “We’re All In Danger,” begins to play. Dealing with all that the group has done to become the people they are and perils they still face on a day-to-day, this track plays like a battle cry for today’s generation. A pulsing anthem begging for change with string samples and gang vocals that are destined to unite future live crowds in mosh-inducing ecstasy, this may be the highlight of Collapse.

The idea of fighting to be the person you’re meant to be continues on “Waking Up” and “Destroy Yourself,” which each present a tale of problematic progress wrapped in fairly obvious metaphors. They’re poppier than the previous chugfests, but still hold their weight as far as rock fans are concerned. “Destroy,” in particular, features one of the more alternative offerings on the album. It’s a fitting change of pace that comes at a point on the album that could not be more perfect. The heavy is good, but Dangerkids are much more than another heavy band and they make sure there’s evidence of that on their debut.

Building on the slight change of direction offered on “Destroy Yourself” is “Unmade,” which is the closest thing to a ballad Dangerkids have ever written. Fans of the chugs will probably groan at the ultra-bright chorus and heavy synth lines, but those able to appreciate the variety being offered will find this song grows on you with repeat plays. The instrumental that follows (“Where The Sky Breaks”), however, will probably be perma-skipped, if not completely removed from digital playlists after the first few spins. It’s atmospheric and fits well-enough within the sonic transition taking place on the album, but at 47-seconds in length it’s too short to offer anything of lasting value for the listener.

“Paper Thin” brings the album back to life with a heavy EDM-influence sound and a fantastic mix of clean/scream vocals. It’s another “old” song, but again fits well enough into the flow of the album that it’s hard to complain.

The final three tracks on Collapse reflect on everything the listener has experienced without retracing too many steps. “Fractions” is a frantic, sometimes synth heavy tale of banding together that is on par with the best rock offerings on the album, but I would be lying if I said it should be a single. It’s strong within the flow of the album, but would feel weak if offered on its own. Similarly, “Dust” is another arguably forgettable instrumental transition, but it fits between the “Cut Me Out” and “Fractions” far better than “Where The Sky Breaks” did between “Unmade” and “Paper Thin.”

Collapse closes with “Cut Me Out,” which is cleverly built upon a structure just similar enough to the two opening tracks to create sense of fluidity to the album that is extremely rare in this genre of music. It’s a beautiful song that leans on the more alternative side of the band, but it still packs a punch that stays with you long after the music ends.

I said in the beginning of this review that I knew the first time I heard Dangerkids that they would be big if given the chance to be themselves. Rise Records offered them that very opportunity, and the result is without a doubt the best hard rock debut of 2013. Collapse offers music fans an infectious and refreshing new take on a subgenre of rock that has been gravely under-utilized for the last decade, and with the right promotional push there is no telling how far they will go. They may be the next big thing in rock, and I for one, certainly hope that is the case.

Score: 9.5/10
Review written by: James Shotwell (Follow him on Twitter)

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