Sensory Overload: Drose

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Michael Gira’s hypnotic, misanthropic musical battering ram Swans has been experiencing a late-career renaissance in the years since Gira discarded his long-running Angels of Light project and dusted off the Swans identity in 2010. So it only follows that Swans’ sound would inspire a new wave of devotees.

Not sure if there’s any movement percolating worldwide, but in Columbus, at least one new band bears the marks of Gira’s influence — and I do mean “bears the marks” because that man’s music is a cattle brand to the inner thigh. The unit in question is Drose, the trio led by ex-Toads and Mice frontman Dustin Rose (the band name is an old nickname of his, see).

In keeping with the Swans persuasion, Drose’s music isn’t what anybody would reasonably call approachable. Yet among fans of sonic antagonism, its appeal is broad. The group has shared stages with a spectrum of local aggressors — life-damaged punks Pink Reason, balls-out volume rockers JFK Didn’t See It Coming, sludge flingers Churches Burn. Saturday, they checked off another box on the metal and punk circuit when they opened for prog-metal enthusiasts Sleepers Awake at Kobo while hawking their own exceptional “A Voice” 7-inch for the first time.

The setup was bare and simplistic, as was the music. It was difficult to differentiate between the songs, but what they lacked in variety they more than accounted for with a carefully honed aesthetic executed to near-perfection.

Two down-tuned guitars took turns handling the high and low end, typically punctuating long stretches of slow-churn with screeching melodic stabs. The drummer was astonishingly steady even as he cycled through elemental rhythms that would trip up your average Lars Ulrich disciple. This was civilized Guantanamo music — brutal, intelligent, methodical, almost mechanistic but too painfully human for that.

Rose’s vocals helped the band forge beyond mere idol worship into a sound of its own. His gleaming cries and haunting whimpers were a more defeated version of the bleary-eyed microphone babble Deftones’ Chino Moreno makes so palatable. Whatever inner turmoil he was channeling made for gripping, unsettling theater. (Sorry about your life, bro.) By the time the set ended unceremoniously with a quick blare of feedback, I was sold.