I’d never heard of The DRX before doing this review, but I’m glad that’s changed. The music appears to be the brainchild of drummer/vocalist/mad genius Dan Romans. Romans is joined by an eclectic group of instrumentalists and vocalists: the credits include both acoustic and electric cello as well as a choir and, of all things, a flugelhorn. Rather than being a confusing mess, this ensemble is coherent, moody, and heavy.
The cheapest comparison to make with The DRX is to the Chicago band Yakuza, though in truth the bands share little more than a saxophone and the “avant garde” genre tag. Where Yakuza tend to stay hard and metallic, The DRX sets their default on Throughout Within, their third record, to “sweeping and emotive.” I have to admit that I thought the opening track, “Monsters Wearing Nice Ties,” took too long to get going. On my first listen, I actually skipped to the second track after the first three minutes of the eight minute piece failed to move past the brooding intro. Fortunately, the second track, “Ancient Lie,” dispenses with any pleasantries. Instead, it drops the heavy end of the hammer on the listener right away with the kind of massive, brutal yet beautiful soundscape this band deserves to be known for. Guttural growls, crooning male and female vocals, sax, synths, and crushing guitars all weave together in service to the emotion of the song.
My personal favorite track is the fourth one, “The End of Avoiding Consequence.” To me, it captures the different moods set up by the first three tracks and combines them instead of presenting them piecemeal. The DRX describe their sound as “heart-crushing” and when it all comes together, it’s true. The musical and emotional climax of the record is the three part closing suite “Trichotomy,” which begins by juxtaposing filthy industrial bass against elegantly plucked strings and carries on in nearly symphonic fashion through to death growls and soaring horns before finishing on a subdued, ambient rumble some fifteen minutes later.
As is perhaps expected of a work of this much ambition, some of the songs do meander a bit or wallow too long on the lighter side of things for my own tastes. Unfortunately, the worst sinner on both counts is the first song, making it too easy to be put off of the whole record. Despite that, when it works, it really works. Persevere and you will be rewarded.