With the release of Don't Push Us When We're Hot, Vermont melodic hardcore export Drowningman offer up the band's first LP of fresh material since the year 2000. The release largely fulfills expectations that the new music, while hanging upon a rough skeleton of melodic hardcore format, would showcase the band's established practice of forging fleeting alliances with styles lying outside the hardcore realm.
In this sense, it should come as little surprise that the overall feel of Don't Push Us When We're Hot is fluid and flexible, placing its musical bulk well past the harder than thou rigidity possessed by many of its hardcore peers. The first undeniable impression the recording makes comes from the guitar interplay laid out by Dan Bushey and Hans Olson--- actually quite above what one might expect from any straight down the middle hardcore act. The vocals largely bear the standard for anthemic, hardcore shout-alongs--- to the point that a single vocal track often takes up the minority position within the recording, and (at times) the stamp of at least a dozen or so voices are present.
Melody is stressed, past the point of three finger riffing, and so the immediacy of the strings is subsequently brightened, for better or worse (depending on who is listening). Textural chords often move in, and betray skilled playing in songs like "Dude Status; Revoked", and "Drowningman Dance Party: Bring Your Own Bodybag". The trade-off, of course, is that the guitars come as across as thin during the moments of the recording when the band incorporates elements of heavy metal into their songs. On their sporadic metal markings, Drowningman fare better than what might be expected of a melodic hardcore act. For example, a track like "Today's Special: Still Beating Hearts", aptly concocts a blend of emocore and indie rock sensibility with metal-tinged arrangements that could (in parts) hang much of the rank and file metalcore lot out to dry. I was surprised to find a touch of (albeit brief) thrash riffing on "The Last Man Sells Out".
Other moments of metal cross-breeding don't pan out as well, often due to the band's pursuit of emo stylings, arguably more present on this recording than past efforts--- one which manifests as a vein of clean, pop-friendliness that courses through some of the material. Songs like "Dear God, Life is Hell" (minus the decent stringwork around 1:20 into the recording) point this out. This dimension appears to have been intentionally worked in to proceed the "build up" transitions throughout Don't Push Us When We're Hot. For example, "Major Disappointment Reporting for Duty" doles out an nice slice of introductory work, and then ventures off (1:40) into something that might be more apt for a band who lists the Foo Fighters as a comparable sound, not Converge or the Dillinger Escape Plan.
Verdict: A solid, enjoyable cut. Don't Push Us When We're Hot will score ably among the smoother, less militant tastes of the hardcore microverse--- specifically, those with an affinity towards melodic mathcore.