Saturday, 17 November 2018

COUGAR DEN

BandCOUGAR DEN
GenresPunk / Hardcore / Emo / Screamo / Skramz / Experimental
Related artistsGallery Night, House Noises, Slow Walker, Centipedes, youthcrush and Call Me Lightning.
CountryMilwaukee, Wisconsin U.S.A.
Years Active2006-2009
Song: "Ash Not Dust"
Album: "Keepondrifter"
Year: 2009
For fans ofDawn Treader, Gillian CarterForstella Ford, Sinaloa, For Want Of, The Fall Of Troy, Terry Green, La Dispute, Nouveau, Hot Cross, Gaff, MANS, Lion Of The North, Cloud Mouth, Bravo Fucking Bravo, Pyramids, Matsuri, L'Antietam, Daniel Striped Tiger and Wow, Owls! aka PROPER SCREAMO.
Label(s): Self Released / Init Records / Ice Age Records
This post's artist is from the November 2018 Mix. This is track #5.
You can download: the November 2018 Mix#11 right here or get the new December 2018 Mix#12 here.

COUGAR DEN are a band I don't know much about and have only recently got into, most likely because I had a 'Keepondrifter' sealed cd for sale and no one bought it, so I tore that shit open (as it was released on Init, an incredible label) and jammed it in my car one day. And then the next. And again...you get the idea. As this is a review I should make the most obvious comparison first, as I think this sounds like a newer version of the almighty Dawn Treader. It's not as heavy nor as serene as the Baltimore band managed to swing, but the technicality, musicianship, song structures, instrumentals and even vocals are really not very different. Basically, COUGAR DEN played mathy, emo-driven hardcore that we could probably just say is mathy screamo.

The band released their self titled debut 'Cougar Den' on cd back in 2006 all by themselves. It's a very good debut that showcases some of the ridiculousness that shows up on the 2009 full length, none being more obvious than the stellar opener "New Kids On the Block". This shit is intense, driving and intricate as fuck, with your typical COUGAR DEN vocals, that is to say they are half-yelled/half-screamed. There's a speed up at about 1:25 combined with the vocal line of, "Three hearts that beat the same!" that is hashed out and repeated in full climax form come 2:05, which is probably the highlight of the entire record for me. "Suburban Conditioning" is an instrumental mindfuck right from the get-go, "When the Going Gets Tough" has a bit more of an emo feel while retaining the intensity, "State Named Disaster" has some nice gang vocals over top of a sole guitar progression during the intro, "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow" opens with a pretty goddamn epic sounding riff and transitions wonderfully into the most progressive and sprawling closer "I'll Take the Side of Reason" that is most indicative of their future material.

In 2008 they released what I consider to be their best material, the sensational 'Keepondrifter'. This thing is a fucking banger, good lord. Opening with one of (if not, my) favourite COUGAR DEN songs, "Ash Not Dust" is a trip. You spend the first 40 seconds in typical band land, but at 50 seconds the song explodes with sick tapping and screaming, only to have it taken a step further at 1:02 when all the instruments crash together and lead to an absolutely devastating section at 1:20. This part is heaven for me, a booming bass (reminds of Nouveau) acts as the vessel for some extremely spacey and intense guitars that carry the rest of the song. That bass, though, holy shit. Duuuh duh, doo do, Duuuh duh, doo do...gets me moving every time, and there's also an awesome solo for most of the third minute. "Burn the Vatican" is very playful in a Hot Cross kind of way, and even includes the first dual vocals that the band tests out, and realizes how awesome it is, as you'll find it on a number of songs here. "Between Long Lines" rides a lazerbeam of a guitar riff that cuts through everything, making the song reminiscent of The Fall Of Troy for sure. "Short Bus Front Flip" is a cathartic jam that reminds me of Bravo Fucking Bravo thanks to an incredibly speedy vocal tradeoff that begins at 2:15 and, for me, is the cornerstone of the song. The first minute of "9.04.06" follows a similar trajectory, but instead of trading off vocals the two just scream over top of one another...but it's still amazing. The midsection has such a spacey feel to it that I almost forget that this isn't Cave In and the end has so much going incredible shit on that your nose might start to bleed. "It Is the Flash Which Appears" may be the most thought-out, flowing, mature and complete song that the band ever wrote. The opening minute is a plethora of striking, bright, guitars acting as shooting stars as the night sky unfolds, the midsection finds footing and starts the ascent, reaching the summit with a thunderous close from about 2:20 onward. Hot damn that is epic! Speaking of thunder, the next track is titled "The Thunderbolt Will Follow" and it literally follows with the bass riff from the preceding song, and as it begins to blossom the petals definitely resemble those of Dawn Treader. "Party Awesome" boasts some pretty bodacious guitar licks after the 30-second mark, followed by a tubular stop/start and cowabungalicious breakdown. Lol what the fuck was that? Ah well, "East'll Meet West Anyway" closes up this fantastic LP and does so in a whopping 6:30, condensing all of the great stuff the band can do into one final track.

Their swan song came on a 7" split with Cloud Mouth on Ice Age Records in 2009. On it is a single COUGAR DEN song spanning nearly seven minutes of jangly, disjointed, yelly/screamy hardcore. I feel like this song doesn't root itself often and instead floats around, dabbling in light and subtle textures without really committing to any sort of primary, intense groove, which I find a bit uninteresting at times. It's still a cool song, but the opening tracks off each LP are my kinda COUGAR DEN tunes. Their final show was on June 18th, 2010 and then they called it a day, citing the obvious fact that they all lived much further away than when the band had started.

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DISCOGRAPHY

2006 - Cougar Den cdLP (stream/donate/download here)

2008 - Keepondrifter cdLP (stream/donate/download here)

2009 - Cloud Mouth split 7"EP (stream/donate/download here)

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(2008) COUGAR DEN - "Ash Not Dust" (from 'Keepondrifter')

(2008) COUGAR DEN - "It Is the Flash Which Appears" (from 'Keepondrifter')

(2008) COUGAR DEN - "Short Bus Front Flip" (from 'Keepondrifter')

(2009) COUGAR DEN - "What Ever Happened to the Home Phone?" (from 'Cloud Mouth' split)

(2006) COUGAR DEN - "New Kids On the Block" (from 'Cougar Den')

(2006) COUGAR DEN - "Suburban Conditioning" (from 'Cougar Den')

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COUGAR DEN additional links
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