Low-yield Harvest

Damn it’s tough keeping up with fickle tastes of kids nowadays. It wasn’t too long ago rap-rock and its nü metal ilk were the whipping boys of disgruntled record store employees nationwide.

Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park? So 2001.

Not that any such matters affect Dragon Ash. By the time Fred Durst rode the coattails of Rage Against the Machine into the ground, Dragon Ash had already married hip-hop beats and metal guitars in a union of musical co-dependency. Take one away from the other, and the whole thing would unravel.

(It’s probably just me, but it seems the whole rap-rock thing treats hip-hop beats as an afterthought anyway. The DJs are just window-dressing.)

At the same time, Dragon Ash are savvy enough to know beats change as often as most people’s underwear. The big beats of 2001’s Lily of da Valley would have as much relevance today as, say, Fatboy Slim.

So on Harvest, Dragon Ash have found a new driving force in beats even more dated than Norman Cook — drum ‘n’ bass.

On a certain level, it’s actually pretty imaginitive. Drum ‘n’ bass usually marries quick, double-time rhythms with slow, minimalist textures. Dragon Ash don’t bother with the slow, minimalist textures and go for the fast, minimalist riffage instead.

Sure, “Posse in Noise” offers breaks from the frantic guitars here and there, but “Revive” gives off a claustophobic vibe with its busy rhythm and Furuya Kenji’s reggae chanting.

For the first few times, the combination of rap, reggae, electronica and metal creates a sensory overload that makes it difficult to digest what’s going on with Harvest. Eventually, it all becomes a blur.

“Canvas” vs. “Massy Evolution” — is it really that easy to tell the two tracks apart?

Dragon Ash doesn’t let you forget just how damn clever Harvest is. Over the course of 17 tracks — a few of which are short interludes — the band doesn’t let up with its über-raprockreggaemetal montage. And it gets tiring.

Unlike Lily of da Valley, there are barely hooks. “Morrow” comes pretty close with its alt-rock ballad conclusion, but there isn’t anything as immediately catchy as “Amploud” or “Shizuka na Hibi no Kaidan wo”.

Harvest once again shows Dragon Ash can barely be contained by the limited scope of rap-rock, but for an album with so much going on, it’s not one that captures nor holds on to attention.