Buckle up and hold on: Dayshell’s newest release, Nexus, is going to take you on a ride! The last we heard from Dayshell was with their self-titled album, released in 2013. Since then the band have gone through three line-up changes before its current configuration of three; Shayley Bourget (vocals & guitar), Jordan Wooley (bass) and Zack Baker (drums). The band have also signed with Spinefarm Records, which lead to their newest album, Nexus.
Nexus (released Oct 7th) leads off with “Car Sick”, which begins unassumingly with a lilting electronic track, before the bass falls in and you’re off and running. Bourget wants to know “Are you with me!?” as the track marches on. Before you know it, the slick blend of electronics, metal guitar and demanding drums have taken you hostage.
Track two, “A New Man” is reminiscent of a rebirth, starting with audio muffled and oppressed before Bourget affirms clearly “I’m on my way, do you see what I mean?”. It’s hard not to feel that Bourget is referring to new music, and asking the listener to hold on and to trust them. Baker’s efforts on this track amplify the request, the beat grabbing hold and not letting go.
The honesty behind Nexus’ lyrics and vocals is endearing, with a midway interlude of “Improvise” seeming to make time stand still. With just this one track, Bourget’s voice ranges from stunningly beautiful through to guttural screams of rage, and musically, the band handle this spectrum of expression effortlessly.
“Low Light” is a dream of a rock song, with a showcase of Baker’s slick drumming in particular. Its pre-chorus build-ups set the stage for this song that you probably won’t be able to get out of your head. The bridge gives Bourget’s silky voice a chance to swirl in amongst the relentlessness of the drumming. “Low Light”’s sedate outro is clearly there so you can catch your breath…
..before being introduced to “The Weapon”. Bourget’s plaintive cries of “I need a weapon”, that escalate from sweet through to enraged over the course of the song will have you coming back to this track more times than you’ll probably publicly admit. Interestingly the bass seems to be what keeps the song grounded and allows Bourget to lose himself as the emotion in the song escalates.
Continuing on our journey through Nexus, we find ourselves at track six, where Bourget’s vocals and the funky baseline of “Ftnw” are reminiscent of an earlier era. “Ftnw” (with “flip-off the new world” sung within the track) incites a heart-based anarchy, its battlecry: “We’re taking over now. The few from underground. Spread your wings and we’re taking over, NOW”.
Over halfway through the album and the hits don’t stop. “Spit in the Face” is a heavier track than we’ve seen on Nexus so far. It is demanding of our ears with musical contortions going on across all instruments and voices, tracks layering and combining together to one kickass track that masterfully expresses its message.
Wooley’s bass greets us leading into track nine, “Master of Making”, along with a gift of a longer introduction with Baker. The vocals are more subtle and withheld at times, and lyrics such as “I come to you with open hand but you disappear”, “Are you a foe or a friend?” and “Would you throw me away” seem to express uncertainty and self-doubt; good reasons to withhold oneself. The shift after the second chorus creates a space drenched in uncertainty and tugs at the heart, including heavy spaces where you’d expect vocals and they don’t come. Bourget’s call of “come to me” breaks the silence and it’s easy to fall in line, absorbing the bridge before we are back in another chorus.
“Terrified” offers up the heaviest intro of the entire album, before falling into a melancholic verse where Bourget asks to “Stop spreading the truth if you know what’s good for you”. This combination of melancholy and metal seems to be a signature of Dayshell, and it works. “Terrified” has what is likely the most beautiful vocal interlude of the entire album after the second chorus. All you can do is hold on to your headphones and sigh as you float off. Thankfully Wooley and Baker keep us grounded in reality and pull us all back to earth for the chorus, giving us an amazing ending that is not in the least terrifying.
Bourget shows us his higher vocal range with the tenth track, “Rush Hour”. This track is easy and enjoyable, and the relaxed tempo of this song incites the inverse of its title. As the different instrument tracks fall away, Baker and his drums are all that remains and gives us an awesome outro.
“Speaking in Tongues”, the second last track on Nexus, combines more Bourget beauty, Baker brilliance, and Wooley wonderment. At this point of the album you might start to wonder what you did right in life to have this gift be present in your ears. For lovers of unique time signatures, “Digital Sand” is a wonderful way to bring our journey through Nexus to a close. It’s a last gasp where the skill of these three musicians is showcased. And we are not disappointed.
Bourget has been quoted as wanting to push boundaries by way of musical style, saying “It might be heavy at the forefront, but there's beauty behind that. It encompasses all of my influences from Deftones and Led Zeppelin to Incubus and Enya. I like to call it 'Fresh Metal'." Nexus is indeed a showcase of these influences and demonstrates the pushing of boundaries by way of genre. The marriage of Dayshell’s melancholy, metal, and individual mastery makes each track of Nexus worthy of deep immersion. Nexus an unmissable album and one you’ll be playing many times over.
Written by Kel Burch
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