Imagine taking a detailed look into the mind of a psychopath: a journey through the synapses and neural junctions of a thrill-killer. While there are almost bound to be disturbing thoughts and twisted imagery to wade through, there has to also be a perverse sort of clarity: the sort of clarity that comes only with understanding what finally makes the sick and twisted members of society tick. Michigan-based progressive deathcore outfit Gift Giver provide just that experience. Their debut EP, Daddy Issues provides an almost diary-like detail to the misanthropy and hate-filled world of a thrill killer. Packed with dense, spiteful lyrics, glitchy, grating production and flashy, punchy instrumentation, Daddy Issues is a breakout EP that is a gift in itself.
November 13, 2012: I didn’t mean to kill her. There. I said it. It was an accident–a crime of passion and nothing more. It started off as a fight, or really more of just a feud, but as things progressed, my vision only became more and more clouded, until all I could see was red, and all I could feel was hate. For her. For her family. For everything she loved and stood for. Things only got worse from there. Daddy Issues begins with a subtle start that has the listener on the edge of their seat. Suspension builds as the opening seconds of “Bodysnatcher” pass by–until all of the sudden, the floor drops out from underneath the listener’s feet and they are sent on a rip-roaring journey through lyrical misanthropy that sounds like it’s torn right out of the pages of a serial killer’s journal. Whether it’s the incessant, punctual chanting in the climax of “Daddy Issues,” visceral violence found in “Scumbag” or the constant berating found in “Chatterbox,” the EP has some of the most thematically brilliant and well-executed lyrics in any EP I’ve heard recently–breakout or not. Furthermore, the vocal execution is on the exact same level as the lyrics: where there is urge for violence and strife, there is a scream or a growl to match. Where there is demented, perverse ill-will, there are half-chanted, half-screamed spoken lines to match. The vocal diversity throughout Daddy Issues beautifully contrasts the thematic, constant hate found in the lyrics.
December 01, 2012: The truth is that there isn’t any coming back from what I’ve done. I’ve crossed a line. I just...I couldn’t help myself. I wrapped my hands tight around her throat–it was only supposed to be a threat, at first. But it turned into so much more than that. I squeezed, and squeezed, and held her down, and before I knew it, minutes had passed and she hadn’t moved. I didn’t mean to do it, I swear. But it’s done now, and I have to keep on moving forwards, through it. It would have been easy for Gift Giver to write a four-riff, chug-heavy canvas for their prodigal lyrical brilliance and get away with a “well, at least they have some cool vocals” remark. However, this was not the case–aiming for nothing but first place, Daddy Issues is a collection of brilliantly executed riffs and stunning drumming which combine into a stellar, groove-laden and grimy backdrop for the equally filthy vocals. The climactic breakdown in “Daddy Issues” makes use of some tastefully superb glitchy delay on the vocals and guitars, while the drums throughout the entire build-up are crowd-rousing and blood-pumping. “Bodysnatcher”’s second alfo half features some subtle instrumental brilliance from the bass and drums which keep the listener utterly floored after the track’s introduction delivers a knockout punch to the jaw.
February 10, 2013: It’s been several months and they still haven’t found the body. I can tell they’re following me and I have a feeling they know I did it. I can’t remember the last time I’ve slept through the night. I can’t remember the last time I’ve gone outside without constantly glancing over my shoulder. I think I’m losing it. If they find this book, I’ll lose everything. I know I will. This will be my last journal entry. The true beauty of this twisted foray into the misanthropic, previously unexplored realms of deathcore is in it’s dynamic. Where the vocals truly excel, the instruments fade into the background–not becoming boring and unimportant, but rather, setting the mood. However, where there is a simply stunning riff–like at the conclusion of “2Face”–the vocals take a backseat to the instrumental excellence that is to be had. The true glory is when the two combine and work together, however: this can be seen best at the end of “Lowlife,” where a devastating, bone-breaking riff gives way into a dynamic, awe-inducing vocal performance. At first listen, the listener’s head might feel as if it’s going to explode: do I focus on the riff and the drums? Or the vocals and the lyrics? It’s only after multiple listens that the listener can truly appreciate both working off of each other as brilliantly as they do. Furthermore, while all this is going on, the listener is never once checking the track length or how many tracks are left in the EP. Daddy Issues is a relatively short release, but is so fluid and well-crafted that it feels much more full bodied than the brief 20-minute run time would have the listener think.
Whether or not you really buy into the hype surrounding the neurological differences between killers and normal people, there is no ignoring the hype surrounding Gift Giver’s Daddy Issues. Simply put, it’s a work of art. Unstoppable, furious hate and wonderfully-crafted musicianship are balanced perfectly in a simply marvelous stoichiometry.
For Fans Of: Sworn In, Silence, Barrier