[QUASI-METAL] Despite the blatant headbanging and hesher styles, the long hair, cigarettes and cheap beer, metalheads are in fact extremely intelligent people—albeit weird intelligent people—who are capable of many things you are not. They can draw extremely intricate photorealistic depictions of muscular men and buxom women fighting giant serpents. They not only change their own oil; they build their own engines. They know what “critical hit ratio” means. They can decipher gruesome fonts on T-shirts and album covers that you cannot—and will not—ever understand. And, oftentimes, they can play very complex, difficult music.
Portland’s Danava plays complex and difficult music. It’s metal, sure, but this is definitely metal of the progressive type. There are arpeggios. There are keyboards. There are odd time signatures. There are definitive devil horns of the high-in-the-sky kind. The hard, psych rock of Blue Cheer and Thin Lizzy is a starting point. The finishing line is somewhere very far and very weird.
The four-piece’s second album, UnonoU, finds the time-displaced unit traversing territories even proggier than those on its self-titled debut. But from the twitchy keyboards of “The Emerald Snow of Sleep” to the glammy “whoo-oo-hoo’s” of “A High or a Low,” these mustachioed gents’ leather boots are firmly planted in the camp of ’70s metal. All the tracks are long (the shortest is over four minutes), with extended elliptical structures that live in a proto-magic era between Lemmy in Hawkwind and Lemmy in Motörhead, leaving sufficient room for wailing, noodling solos.
The final track, “One Mind Gone Separate Ways,” is a 13-minute mindfuck that gallops with Iron Maiden rhythms into a festering pit of twisted keyboards and all-out insanity. Music of this kind is meant to transport people somewhere. For this particular writer, that somewhere is an unfinished basement with a shag carpet and drop ceiling, populated by a half-eaten box of Domino’s pizza, a black-and-red Nintendo controller and an 8-bit princess who needs saving, like, pronto. There’s a 20-sided die, a sheet of graph paper and jeans that are too tight. The whole place smells like cereal and dudes. And it all just feels totally right.
SEE IT: UnonoU comes out Sunday, Feb. 17. Danava plays Friday, Feb. 15, with Blue Cheer and Red Fang at Dante’s. 9 pm. $15 advance, $18 day of show. 21+. Danava also plays a CD release show and video premiere Thursday, Feb. 21, with SubArachnoid Space, DarkBlack, Torn to Pieces and DJ Moonchild at Lola’s Room. 9 pm. $6 advance, $8 day of show. 21+.