One of the earlier mathcore bands to adopt a goofy name in the hopes of getting a few cheap laughs (Arsonists Get All the Girls and Iwrestledabearonce being good examples of bands following their lead), the Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza have always been a great fit for the chaotic genre. They’ve avoided many issues that a number of contemporaries haven’t; Periphery’s overproduction being a good example, or even just the simple fact that it’s so easy to sound derivative – take Vortice (admittedly more prog metal than mathcore), who is a talented collective but little more than a Meshuggah clone. Still, one thing that weighed down the band was the use of breakdowns to excess – as anyone will attest, it’s incredibly difficult for a song to be memorable when the very number of sections to it immediately overwhelm the listener. This issue is far from gone, but there’s a stronger connection between sections this time around, and a spectacular groove, largely thanks to new guitarist Josh Travis.
TTDTDE’s sound has gotten a huge boost thanks to Travis’ work on this record. The spontaneous nature of previous guitarist Layne Meylain is not as strong (as was likely expected), but Travis still keeps the spirit alive with rather erratic playing of his own, employing harmonic sweeps and bending strings mid-riff, for instance. These are probably best displayed on Yippie-Kay-Yay Motherfucker, Passenger 57, and There’s a Time and Place for Everything, each of which are both technically proficient and highly catchy. The riffs are still absolutely crushing as well, and with the new emphasis on groove and melody, they almost sound like 90s greats Pantera and Machine Head spliced with Meshuggah, or even the Dillinger Escape Plan. I Am Sammy Jenkis provides references both Memento in title and Meshuggah in style, but the great thing is that before the unsettling guitar melody hovering over the chugging riffs begins to sound a bit too familar, they are very quick to dive back into their own trademarks, returning with screeching guitars, quick and offbeat drums, and and great, abrupt ending that practically crashes into the next track, The Lost & Damned.
As mentioned earlier, however, the number of breakdowns can still get to be a bit much, mostly toward Danza III’s end. Suicide’s Best Friend sounds more like a host of song segments thrown together than an actual song, linked by a minimal flow. Travis overuses his aforementioned techniques somewhat also, as well as on the otherwise compelling The Union. The band really does their best work when working their trademark spontaneity around the groove they’ve adopted here, as opposed to the other way around. Still, this is really a small grip, seeing as it only pops up on a scant few tracks in the album’s second half. Not to mention that given the genuine fury to the record, they’re a surprisingly difficult band to accuse of trying too hard.
Danza III is a huge leap from the band’s previous albums, both in terms of production and songwriting. Before, the Danza Tapdancers were better known for running through random sections and exhausting the listener, ultimately sounding like a slightly above average mathcore band. Here, there is more focus on melody, and it cannot be overstated just how much Travis’ groove-laden riffs bring to the table. TTDTDE just stepped into the big leagues with this one.