(Kentucky-based guest writer Austin Weber makes a return appearance with this review of the final album by The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, which is out now on the Black Market Activities label.)
Worry sets in when a band announces the departure of founding members, leaving fans to wonder what will become of the music. In these types of situations, rarely does the change lead to a revolution, where a better version of the band’s signature sound emerges despite the loss of key members.
Such questions arose when Josh Travis joined The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza as a replacement for founding member and guitarist Layne Meylain. They were already an interesting band before he came along, but had yet to hone their chaotic output into linear, digestible songs.
The release of Danza III showed a mature band, elevated by a new line-up, as an unstoppable force of laser-guided vitriol. Now with the arrival of Danza IIII: The Alpha – The Omega, comes a certain sadness as Josh Travis has already left for Glass Cloud, making this the band’s final statement and swansong. This time around they recorded with an even more stripped-down line-up, with Jessie Freeland performing vocals and Josh Travis handling all instruments, samples, and noise.
The most prominent aspect of these songs is how goddamn crushing they are. Each tune is propelled by a thick groove foundation, colliding with dissonant riffs, whammy abuse, and robotic tapping in the most malevolent way possible. We’ll get to the noise issue in a bit.
I will admit that for the first week I had this album, I found myself on an endless loop of the first three tracks: “Behind Those Eyes”, “You Won’t,” and “RudyX3.” As I began to fully explore the album, I realized how good it was from start to finish. The songs themselves are well written, which makes it easier to forgive or skip over the extraneous noise, a fair bit of which appears sprinkled throughout and is ultimately dead space, wasting about ten minutes of the album. The ambient component from Danza III carries over here as well, and the occasional tranquil moments, when they do pop up, are a calming reprieve from the frantic pace. In a way, it’s reminiscent of how Meshuggah’s atmospheric side adds a beautiful identity to otherwise ugly music that to many would not even be considered listenable.
For some, the noise will be a big turn-off and chalked up as a reason why this album isn’t worth the investment of multiple spins. But behind the bits and pieces of unfortunate filler lies Danza’s best material to date, a fitting send-off for one of the angriest bands around.