In the golden age of Beltway post-hardcore, two guitars were always better than one. And in some cases, two basses were better than one. Any band that truly rocked attacked with two axes, and that’s how it was. For the most part. But it doesn’t seem to be the case these days. Bands like Q and Not U, Navies and Medications are content as trios. Meanwhile, The Evens and French Toast are more than capable as duos. What happened? Where did all of the dual-guitar punches go? I don’t think there’s any real explanation for it, but when you’re a band like Decahedron, you probably don’t really care.
Decahedron, as you can imagine, is a trio. They rock the typical guitar-bass-drums lineup of your typical power triptych, but do a damn fine job of making a ruckus without the extra instrumentation. Jason Hamacher’s drums are an ironclad force, backing the shattering guitar leads of Shelby Cinca and the bass rumbles of Jake Brown. Their new disc, 2005, should be enough to convince anyone of the futility of two guitars. It’s not so much that they find ways to fill the space with extra sounds or anything. They’re just so fucking loud, anything else would probably get lost in the big mess of sound.
So they pummel — that’s clear. But they’ve got other tricks, namely a futuristic, nigh apocalyptic theme running through most of their songs. A William Gibson quote under the giant printed “2005” on the back cover automatically lends the disc an eerie sci-fi feel. And then there’s the anti-Bush, anti-corporate song titles and lyricism in tracks like “Terrhetoric” (“Die for freedom and threat“) and “We Are the Virus” (“Mission Control/Mind Control/Airwave Control“).
But then there are the covers. The trio takes on Cop Shoot Cop’s “Cause and Effect” and Bauhaus’ “Scopes.” Both are attempted with equal vitriol and ferocity, as could be expected. Not much of Decahedron’s music isn’t ferocious, to be perfectly honest. But if you’re going to cover a song, you might as well make it rock out, right?
The closest to “slow” that the band comes is in final dirge “Ageless,” which drones more than pounds, but still has plenty of feedback and angularity. Without two guitars, Decahedron’s sound is far from simplified. It may not have the interwoven riffs or solos, but they make up for it in volume. Lots and lots of volume.
French Toast – In a Cave
Unwound – Repetition
Navies – An Estate
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.