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Axis of Evil

By Trevor Hale

Steve Austin (not the WWE wrestler) has been a prominent force in the metal and hardcore scene for well over 15 years now. He’s lent his knowledge, talent and unique musical vision to numerous up-and-coming bands, producing albums for acts as diverse as Lamb of God, Converge, Bane and The Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra.

While that alone would seem to be an above-average career in the music industry, that’s not all Austin has accomplished. His band, Today is the Day, has been releasing great record after great record since 1993. While things have been quiet for the past few years, its newest release, Axis of Eden, has shown up just in time to remind everyone in the metal scene just how important Today is the Day still is.

Today is the Day got its start in the early 1990s in a city better known for its contributions to country as opposed to the dark, metal riffing Austin was gunning for — Nashville, Tenn. While the sound may have been different than the residents were used to, Today is the Day plowed its way through the underground on a self-released debut called How To Win Friends And Influence People. Constant buzz, touring and more records eventually landed Today is the Day on Philadelphia-based Relapse Records, which at the time was one of the premiere metal labels.

Austin went straight to work, building a brand new line-up (a trend that would continue through each new album) and crafted Temple of the Morning Star, one of Today is the Day’s strongest and most applauded albums. On the strength of that record, Today is the Day hit the road with some of the biggest names in metal, touring alongside Helmet, Converge, Napalm Death and The Melvins. Today is the Day continued its assault on the metal scene two years later with the release of In The Eyes Of God, this time recruiting Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor behind the kit.

While the early part of this decade has been quiet for Austin and Today is the Day, the band released a few random, live albums and the epic Sadness Will Prevail. Sadness was an atmospheric, almost experimental album that lasted over two hours and contained more than 30 tracks. Playing out like some type of concept album for Austin’s deranged, damaged psyche, the album found brilliant ways to shift from heavy and slow to the band’s signature metal grind. It took the band nearly three years to complete and gave the world a look at just what kinds of demons Austin had running around inside his head and how he was able to channel them into his musical and lyrical repertoire.

Just before Today is the Day parted ways with Relapse, the band released what could be considered the antithesis to Sadness with Kiss the Pig. The album was short, brutal and fast paced, proving once again that Austin and his band mates — whoever they may be at the time — are no fans of rehashing. The constant re-imagining of what a band like Today is the Day was, is and can be is what gives Austin the credibility he deserves among his metal-industry peers.

After leaving Relapse, Austin was able to put the time into creating his own label, SuperNova Records, and studio work, including the newest Today is the Day release, Axis of Eden. With another new drummer intact, this record is a look at everything Austin and Co. had dwelling in the back of their minds for the past three years. In a scene littered with imitators and gimmicks, Steve Austin has always run ahead of the pack and has been able to showcase his talents in the progression of his albums. Axis of Eden is no different. With plenty of emotive subtlety hidden behind its harsh, uncompromising wall of thick bass lines and thrashing, brutal guitar work, Today is the Day remains one of the leaders in the current metal scene.

Catch Today is the Day at one of Salt Lake’s newest all-ages venues, The Outer Rim, next Tues., April 8, and catch a glimpse of the great show Today is the Day no doubt has in store.

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