By Ashley Bailey
I should probably begin this review by clarifying that I’m not really into alternative rock; I don’t have anything against the genre, I just find alt rock too much of an umbrella genre for me to become invested in anything other than the odd band that have been labelled as such. I tend to find alt rock bands either embody the clichés one expects of the genre, or just do their own thing and become difficult to quantify. So when I was asked to review the debut EP from A Dirty Downfall, an alt rock band, I wasn’t really sure what to expect; or whether it’d be suited to my tastes. Fortunately, I was rather taken by it.
I had no prior knowledge of A Dirty Downfall, other than the fact they share members with the now defunct, Blue Eyes Don’t Lie, who themselves were labelled as British alternative pop rock. A Dirty Downfall are comparable to bands like Radiohead, Audioslave and (modern) Porcupine Tree; utilizing a slow building, dirty, atmospheric sound complete with fuzztone. Josh (Langley)’s underplayed yet raw vocal style brings to mind any number of grunge vocalists.
This is Not a Downfall contains three tracks: This is Not a Downfall, Live for Tomorrow and Dexter. The title track opener is a little upbeat in comparison to the rest; the brief instrumental sections between the verse and chorus feature a catchy guitar riff by Josh (Langley), made even stronger by the bass undercurrent from Connor. The outro instrumental piece is surprisingly heavy, and foot tap inducing; and Josh Dunne (drums) is at his most memorable.
A Dirty Downfall follow up with Live for Tomorrow, which is a far more somber affair. The slow, drawn out choruses give it an intimate feeling, and showcase Josh’s soulful vocals. Though, it does feature some strong riffs and licks in places.
Dexter is the heaviest track on the EP with a heavily downtuned guitar riff that plays throughout the majority of the track, coupled with a simple but harsh drumbeat. The track already has quite a dark vibe, but Josh’s hauntingly melancholic vocals complete the effect. Josh is at his best here, especially during the powerful chorus. I’m not entirely sure what the song is about, at first I assumed it was about the serial killer Dexter Morgan, but the lyrics are more befitting of a destructive relationship.
Conclusion: This is Not a Downfall is a solid first effort from this promising new band. It's quite clear it isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but if alt rock is your thing than you could certainly do worse. The production quality isn’t great, but it is the band’s first EP, and the flawed quality actually benefits their harsh sound – had it been a squeaky clean production the ambience would have been lost in translation. So, I’m still not really sold on the whole alt rock thing, but I am sold on A Dirty Downfall; which made the whole bait and switch intro necessary, as the whole hook on the car door story, only really works if you have previously remembered to mention the hook adorning escaped convict.
Devil Horn Rating (Out of Five): \m/ \m/ \m/ \n