Jun 062023

(Here’s DGR’s review of a little-known EP from March that made a favorable impression on him.)

Another one for the short but sweet pile to break things up a bit and from a part of the world we don’t get to travel to too often.

Dragdown are – for lack of a better term – a melodeath group hailing from Japan, hybridizing a few different styles together but mostly hewing close to the groove-focused and galloping offshoots of the melodeath scene and even cramming some metalcore guitar chug into the auditory violence. Dragdown are big fans of the super-aggressive verse and clean-sung chorus approach but have an interesting tact for it in that they don’t really ‘lighten up’ for the glory-chorus segments. Dragdown clearly like the part where the drummer takes a ‘can’t stop, won’t stop’ approach to things.

The group’s newest EP Antisocial arrived in the middle of March and found itself collected up in the great NCS content maw, and wow, has this one taken a while to get around to. It’s hovered in the background for a bit but Antisocial isn’t the easiest EP to get a hold of, and since there was a brief musical lull we now have the time to dive into it.

Antisocial is a collection of the six songs that Dragdown have released over the last year, starting with their most recent song “Defied Man” and then traveling backward in time to 2022 and five singles later with the song “Helm”. Antisocial may be one of the first EPs in a while where you hear a group traverse influences backward in time chronologically with songs getting lengthier in about equal measure along the way. It is a chaotic journey through the Dragdown world in the form of ‘where we are now’ back to ‘where we came from’.

So what else is in the mix? Given that at six songs, Dragdown‘s EP clocks in at around twenty minutes. Well, on top of the fattened groove riffs that comprise many of the songs – there’s a handful of high-speed backbreakers for sure – you’ll get the occasional nu-metal esque industrial flair and one near-ballad in the form of “Offline”, which was the group’s second single released back in 2022. Fifth on the EP but again, we’re traveling backwards, so in a way you’ll get a picture of Dragdown as they are currently and everything after that is them trying out new things and finding different sounds.

“Offline” sounds starkly different from much of the other material within the Antisocial EP, being close to entirely clean sung save for a solid batch of aggression in the bridge, but it definitely will stand in contrast to EP opener “Deified Man”, which at only a minute and twenty-eight seconds, is a quickly launched foray into grindcore chaos, vs the rest of Antisocial‘s three-to-four-minute proper songs.

As a first exposure, “Deified Man” paints Dragdown as being overwhelmingly aggresive and blindingly angry, one with a singular message to deliver and after having done so just as quickly leaves the room. You’d be forgiven for thinking the two songs following were extensions of that opening musical flurry given that it basically storms into the room, launches furniture at the walls, and then leaves just as quickly. It wasn’t until “Déformation” started up with another crunchier guitar riff four-minutes later that we had finally shaken off the opening assault, completely missing that there’d been a song in between.

At the time it had felt like a bridge that shifted the band into more modernized melodeath mode like you’d hear among the Napalm Records collective, but it turned out to be a remastered take on a completely different song. Songs like “Helm”, “恕牢”, “Dummy”, and the aforementioned “Déformation” are a little more recognizable by the verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, but what makes much of those interesting is what we pointed out in the opening segment here. Dragdown never really let up on the accelerator until “Offline” late in the tracklisting. The clean sung parts? Fast. Main guitar riffs? Fast. With percussive beatings on both bass and actual drumming behind them, they keep a quick clip to keep the machine rumbling. Yes, its basically like eating four cheeseburgers in a row but also, sometimes you just need to slam four cheeseburgers in a row into your face. There is still comfort to be found in genre-fare as well.

Given that Antisocial is a collection of six previously released singles, it’s hard to quantify it as one overall snapshot, but rather better to look at it as what it actually is. It is six different songs, taken from six different points over the last year and a half. Dragdown are a currently a duo who are tackling a handful of heavily different styles across Antisocial, and while their current form may be the most interesting, there’s still appeal to their more tradionally melodeath/groove-metal hybrid songs that are present here.

Dragdown aren’t attempting to rebuild whole song structures here and push a genre forward, but instead are creating some delicious red meat that could easily appeal to modern-day Arch Enemy fans with the mid-tracklisting of Antisocial, and all the same grab underground-dwelling sewer monsters like us here at NCS with the chaotic hammering that is the EP’s opening song.


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