When you see the name Microwave you either think of one of two things: A kitchen appliance you use way too much, or, the Atalanta sad boy Emo band. Their first album ‘Stovall‘ was a sombre homage to the life of religion Nathan Hardy left behind, teeming with imagery of heaven and hell, healing and moving on. ‘Much Love‘ is an angsty Midwest Emo future classic, with songs about loving someone who can’t love you back, living in a s***hole that’s teeming with cockroaches and of course ‘Lighterless‘, the fan favourite.
‘Death Is A Warm Blanket‘ is the bands third release, and with three years since any new releases from the band, anyone who knew of them was pretty stoked to finally be getting some new music, so here’s the question, does it live up to the hype?
The album opens on ‘Leather Daddy‘, an instant favourite purely because of the title. This track starts on a soft acoustic guitar, reminiscent of their second release ‘Much Love‘ before taking a sonic U-turn into the depths of noisy, distortion fuelled grunge. This song seems to pay homage to their lead single off of their first release ‘Stovall‘, revisiting lyrics and themes from the album. Overall it makes sense in context of the release, as lyrically it seems to address the realities of a record deal in terms of what it means for creativity, as well as the ‘state’ of the Alternative scene at the moment (beyond the countless sexual assault and misconduct allegations made). And revisiting the lyrics of their previous songs seems the perfect place to start, perhaps even suggesting that the band feel as though they have made little to no progress in a lot of aspects in their lives, another common lyrical theme in this release.
‘Float To The Top‘ is a bass-driven Nirvana B-side. Using quiet to loud dynamic shifts to their advantage, creating an insane amount of energy in the chorus and a building sense of existential dread through the verses, which is fitting as the song is seemingly about wading through metaphorical shit every day, and nothing getting better. This song is loud and exposes the heavier edge Microwave have gone for on this release beautifully.
Next up is the title track, ‘DIAWB‘, and I have to admit, I had to google the lyrics to this song, as I just feel as though perhaps the vocal distortion went too far and the vocals ended up being buried slightly in the mix? Apart from my slight issues understanding what was actually being sung, once I had began to understand the lyrics and what was actually going on, I actually really love this track, it’s messy in all the ways a grunge/post-hardcore song should be, whilst still remaining a comprehensive (for the most part) piece. ‘The Brakeman Has Resigned‘ is similar and also one of my favourite tracks, with probably one of the most cathartic choruses on the entire release.
‘Hate TKO‘ is an interesting look at the state of the music scene at the moment and controversies that have surrounded it. It was about here I started to notice the lyric “It doesn’t really get better, that’s just something they say“, being somewhat of a common lyric through most of the songs on this album. Maybe it’s lazy song writing? Maybe it’s trying to prove a point?
‘Pull‘ starts out sort of ethereal feeling, like you’re listening to this song through several walls at a party, I dig it. This is certainly one of my favourite songs off the album, it’s the most familiar from what I’d expect from microwave, soft and sad. Before it nose-dives into a noisy cluster-fuck or heavy guitars, overdriven bass, crashing drums and screaming vocals. It takes a few uncomfortable seconds to get used to it, but then it’s okay. Following the abrupt finish of ‘Pull’, comes ‘Love’s Will Tear Us Apart‘, a fifty-three second acoustic lament about how life doesn’t seem to get better.
‘Mirrors‘ comes next, it’s slightly more melodic and you can almost understand what is being said, it’s good, but I can’t help but shake the nagging feeling of “it’s not Microwave” from the back of my mind, I don’t know if that’s just because I’ve fallen in love with ‘Much Love’, or my adverse to change, but it’s so different from what I was expecting that I don’t know how I feel. One thing I can say I love for sure is the continuity this album has, many of the songs transition perfectly into one another whilst also maintaining a very noticeable sense of individuality from track to track.
My favourite track off of this entire release is Carry, it’s building and emotional, a track I can easily see myself singing along to at the edge of the pit waiting for the circle to inevitably collapse on itself in a wave of cathartic release. And this is what I’ve been searching through throughout this entire release, something that made me feel the way this track did, the way Microwaves other releases have.
Part of It is another favourite, and I can say for sure that the second half of this album is a lot stronger and more thought out than the first, it’s new but familiar at the same time, it’s not as jarring and it’s not as aggressive. I don’t know how much of that is personal preference, but it also seems that the issue with the vocals being so buried you can’t even hear them is solved in this half of the record.
Overall, this album is good, not my favourite Microwave release (that space will always be reserved for Much Love) but it isn’t bad. It’s so astronomically different from their previous releases that I almost feel bad comparing them, it’s aggressive and angry, clearly showing frustrations that have gone out of check for a while. One thing I can say for sure is that this album has gotten me excited for what’s to come from Microwave (and definitely more than ready to see them live again!) and it certainly marks the start of a new era for this band. If you’re someone in to the heavier side of grunge/post hardcore, then definitely check it out. If you’re sitting down with this record expecting the sad boy experience you got with the last two records, then maybe reconsider what you think Microwave are before you do so.