February 27, 2020 Today Is the Day – No Good To Anyone (Album Review)
Bruised and battered but never beaten, Today Is the Day present No Good To Anyone, their first record in six years.
Looking back, Today Is the Day first burst onto the scene in 1992 with their debut EP, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and this lead to a record deal with Amphetamine Reptile, who released the band’s debut full-length Supernova later the same year. Full-time members and guests alike came and went, and 1997’s Temple of the Morning Star emerged as the band’s most impactful work of the ’90s. A flurry of label changes followed in the new millennium as the band moved from Relapse to SuperNova for 2007’s Axis of Eden, to Black Market Activities for 2011’s Pain Is a Warning, and more recently to Southern Lord for 2014’s Animal Mother.
Which leads us to present day with No Good To Anyone, set for release on Friday, February 28th via the band’s new label, BMG, and also presents a turning point for Founder Steve Austin. While some of the time since Animal Mother was spent writing and touring—the latter marked by appearances at Psycho Las Vegas and Maryland Deathfest—a good portion of the time was Austin dealing with various personal and health issues.
The rawest effort went into simple daily activities, so once Austin healed enough to record again, it is no wonder a long, angry tack like “No Good To Anyone” emerged as the first public piece of material released, posted by Decibel magazine this past December. A tepid dance between the main riff–a slow, prodding death march—and bursts of spastic energy, the track at once redefines and further cements Today Is the Day as a progenitor of Noise Rock and, with “Attacked by an Angel,” “Mercy,” and “OJ Kush,” seeds for the more contemporary genre of Post-Metal.
Then there is “Cocobolo” and “Burn in Hell,” both of which offer slinky Industrial detours that again marry slow, raw emotion with crass throes of agony. Among these angrier tunes are short ditties such as “Agate” and “Orland,” the latter featuring Austin’s son Willie and likely taking its name from the Maine town Austin calls home. Another respite comes with “Callie,” a quiet, poignant tribute to his departed Australian Shepherd.
Despite the plethora of negative material to draw on and draw from, Austin insists that No Good to Anyone is something much deeper than a cathartic exercise: “Within the album, in my darkness and sorrow of the shit that I’m facing, of mortality and all that, the message that I’m leaving behind is a message of love.” Listeners will need to sift through the initially invective reproach of songs like “Born in Blood” to find the calm, forthright positivity therein.
Track by track, chord by chord, the balance shifts from anger toward calm, danger to safety, reaction to proaction. For example, “Mexico” has a series of brash chords off-put by largely monotonic vocals, while “Son of Man” employs the opposite, combining a somewhat warm connection of guitar, bass, and drums, with a raspy, off-camera voice. This is while the aforementioned “Burn in Hell” deigns to reach further and combine all of these techniques. The final movement, “Rockets and Dreams,” caps off the album with a soft, low-fi tune with a jagged rendition of “America the Beautiful.”
Perhaps the rockets and the dreams of the album’s final track reflect the once and future goals of the people of earth, the great mess of humanity that spends almost as much time destroying itself as it does making things better, and in some cases, demonstrably better. For his part, Austin has done that with No Good to Anyone, proving that the darkest depths can bring forth some of the brightest light. That is why Cryptic Rock gives No Good To Anyone 4 out of 5 star.