Point blank, if you’re a fan of bands like P.O.D., Korn, Papa Roach and Three Days Grace and you’re looking for a local band to get into, Downstait will be just what the doctor ordered. Each song on their sophomore LP, With You In Mind, is loaded with an enviable sonic bag o’ tricks; check out the flanged guitars that kick off “High Heels” and the thrashy fury that starts off “World Divided” before the band switches it up in a breakdown that segues into an anthemic chorus. In addition, the songwriting and structure on each of the album’s 13 songs are so sturdy and flow along so effortlessly it’s easy for the listener to get sucked in and stay with the band through the entire song cycle.Much of the music on Mind is aggro with lean guitars and touches of electronica. The most well-known band that Downstait could be compared to is probably P.O.D. They mix a generally aggro stance and streamlined but heavy guitars with hip-hop and electronic inflections to create an urban heavy rock sound. While Downstait may not be a batch of Christians the same way that P.O.D. are, they mix their anger with a dose of positivity.
The band cleverly hooks in the listener from the start and doesn’t let go until the record is done. The opening lyrics of the first song, “Open Your Eyes,” find lead singer Daren Zack Call repeating the refrain “It’s the end of the world, and I feel fine.” Most listeners will immediately recognize that it’s an allusion to R.E.M.’s 1987 single “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” By putting a new spin on a familiar lyrical refrain, Downstait give the audience something to identify with before the band switches things up and takes them in different (and often unexpected) directions.
And truthfully, Downstait are able to pull off a surprising variety of material convincingly. Not many bands would be able to deliver both the blustery furor of “Kill Me” along with the sincere ode to a romantic relationship “Wherever You Go” back to back, let alone make both fist-pumping anthems. Put simply, it’s difficult to deny an album of 13 songs that are so uniformly well-written, arranged and executed.
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