Dub Trio – IV

written by: November 16, 2011
Dub Trio - Dub Trio IV Release Date: Oct. 25, 2011


The term “dub” may evoke an array of responses or images for any given listener. Often, a deliberately repressed energy is key in describing the ambience of dubstep, with its heavy, straight and pleasantly repetitive beats. The image of a dark room filled with 20-to-30-somethings, all nodding their heads in silent awe at a lone artist illuminated in deep-blue lighting on stage, may come to mind. “Dub” on its own boils down to a genre in which artists integrate existing music or sounds and reshape them into something new. Manipulated electronica, let’s say, head-nodding never optional.

One thing that most likely does not come to mind right away when speaking of the “dub” genre, however, is heavy metal music, as is the case with Dub Trio.

The Brooklyn band’s latest release, simply titled IV, utilizes “dub” in the true sense of the word: recording members’ instruments (DP Holmes’ guitar and keys, Stu Brooks’ bass and keys and Joe Tomino’s drums), often on stage, and reworking them via loop and delay effects. That’s how the band’s name makes sense, and it’s also what makes the tracks “Ends Justify the Means,” “1:1.:618” and the beginning of “En Passant” the most cohesive with that name and, obviously, the concept of the “dub” genre.

IV, however, really does not belong in the dub genre. If anything, it belongs solidly and squarely on the heavy-metal bill. Excluding those few tracks previously mentioned, almost the entirety of the album is straight-forward hard rock, complete with all of the slick distortions (see “Swarm,” “Words” and “Patient Zero” for the most familiar heavy sounds and song structures), mid-tune tempo changes, and adrenaline-inducing cacophony of metal. And it is a decent metal album at that. But it makes those trance-inducing, artist-illuminated-in-deep-blue-light moments all the more out of place. It’s a stark enough contrast that it brings to mind Beirut’s first release, March of the Zapotec & Realpeople – Holland, which was literally two EPs released back-to-back, thus the inconsistency. Why the inconsistency here?

If the band is going to be called Dub Trio, perhaps their namesake makes the most sense when they’re playing right in front of a crowd, where fans can witness the dubbing in action. Right now it comes off almost as a mistake when those few songs start off on a decidedly electronic note and do a heavy-metal 180.

To be clear, those mistakes come off as the album’s happiest mistakes. The metal aspect of the album is simply not where its innovation lies, but the more experimental moments—such as the Books-like “1:1.:618,” made up of a hodge-podge of found sounds and sparse major thirds subtly layered over mostly minor percussive tones—are the most interesting. Since these moments are so sparse and subtle, however, they’re just not very easy to enjoy. The opportunity for enjoyment is all too slim.

Misunderstandings aside, IV has some significant innovation to offer. If the balance between manipulated electronica and metal can be stricken somehow, Dub Trio will have found its footing, and we will relish in the (hopefully) cohesive sound. Heavy metal and dub does seem like a particularly difficult combo, though. If anyone will discover that balance, it will be Dub Trio—for the win.

Dub Trio – IV tracklist:

  1. “En Passant”
  2. “Noise”
  3. “Swam”
  4. “Control Issues Controlling Your Mind”
  5. “Ends Justify the Means”
  6. “Words”
  7. “Patient Zero”
  8. “1:1.:618”
  9. “Thousand Mile Stare”