For a four-guitar player band, Diarrhea Planet sure has its crap together. Even on their first few releases, their shred-heavy style of power metal was amazingly balanced, with each guitar part finely layered in the sonic pocket of the whole. On their critically acclaimed follow up, I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams, listeners truly experienced the maturing of their songwriting craft. Sure, there were still solos on solos on solos, but they were more intricately wound into the main fabric of the songs, serving as accents instead of the main points. Over the last year, the Nashville boys have been testing out some new tunes, five of which will be on their upcoming 10” EP, Aliens In The Outfield. Their latest offering, streaming here, is called “Peg Daddy,” and it’s about as far from the first DP recordings as one could imagine. In no way is that a bad thing.
Don’t worry. Plenty of shredding occurs. It just takes a little while, and boy, does the rest of the song deliver. The whole thing naturally evolves, with each part added as another is finishing its introduction to the whole piece. What begins as one guitar picking out a rhythmic pattern quickly gains momentum, not through speed, but from the addition of shimmering, higher-register guitar accents over the bones of the rhythm. Behind these leads, the drums softly enter with kick and tom hits, while the guitars build in volume and space, taking up more and more of the song with echo and reverb. Eventually, an initially low wave of distortion builds into the main part of the track, when the vocals come in.
Initially I had a difficult time making out the lyrics. I first thought that it was due to the mix, but then I realized that I was focusing too much on the four guitars layered and interweaving with each other’s parts. After a few more listens, they mesh perfectly with the massive wall of sound that erupts after the softer dynamic introduction. Diarrhea Planet are well known not only for their shredding, but for the incredibly personal nature of their lyrics. Here, they seem to dive into more of the emo genre, singing about pain, insecurity, broken promises, guilt, and disappointment. For the heavier portions of the song, lines like “Breaking my will and putting me down on my knees,” and “’Cuz there’s too many things I did, my mind’s a prison that won’t let me free.” The themes of the lyrics mesh well with the more chaotic, driving parts of the song, as Jordan Smith’s usual full-throated delivery lends a straining, forceful feel to his words. For a short, quieter “bridge,” for lack of a better word, Diarrhea Planet turned to guitar player Emmett Miller for vocals, and the lower-dynamic section is a nice respite before a climactic finish. “When it’s quiet, how does it feel? When there’s nothing but silence, can you still hear?” The brief interlude marks a transition into the triumphant, more hopeful ending portion, where harmonic, interlocked guitar solos take over and he song soars into its atmospheric ending.
I can’t help but be pleased with this departure from Diarrhea Planet. No, it doesn’t have the overindulgent solos just for the sake of solos like their earlier material, but what it represents is so much more than just shred-heavy party metal. This sounds like a perfect balance of 90s emo mixed with just a hint of hair metal, while the instrumental intro is slightly reminiscent of Explosions in the Sky. It’s an uplifting and powerful song that is carefully constructed around the band’s unique take on their own live performance and recording process.