The spirit of the late, great God Head Silo is apparently alive and well and living in in Australia, reincarnated seemingly in the bass and drums noise rock pummel of DEAD. The ghost of that underrated duo is there a lot of the time, and it’s impossible not to think of them as you get your first earful of this, their second album via the fantastically monikered We Empty Rooms label.
There’s a distinct whiff of Karp at work here too, both in their knack for building a song on a driving rhythm and the sense of playfulness at work – and certainly vocally the likes of ‘Couldn’t Keep His Mouth Shut’ get a little close to that band’s dual voiced roar. I’m alright with that mind. I’m just fine with it. I like those bands too. And honestly, I don’t really think their sound is an intentional rip, it’s more a matter of an influence slipping through the cracks a little more than one might expect, and there’s more to them than plagiarism for sure.
And to be blunt, when they hit their stride DEAD are a whole heap darker than the bands that I’m lumping them in with. There’s a humour at work perhaps, but it’s of the blackest kind. Opening with some hushed atmospherics before breaking into a full on pummel, ‘The Carcass Is Dry’ is a dark, jerky little affair that catches the interest immediately and the two members play off each other nicely throughout.
The slower and darker they get as the set proceeds the better they sound. Take, for example, the album highpoint: the fantastic ‘Murder Hollow’ which sees an additional female vocalist join the boys for an eerie narrative. It’s this kind of sinister backwoods menace that seems to suit them most – pitch black and atmospheric. This track and the closing sludge workout of ‘Lego Men’ stand out most here and it really is an area you hope they’ll develop on more. Tracks like ‘Up!’ and ‘Inherit The Wind’ take a slightly more upbeat tact, and while the more direct rocking approach suits them just fine (particularly on the latter), you do long for more of the delving into all things macabre in the way ‘Murder Hollow’ does so well.
‘Bed Bugs’ is the only song that really does little here, seemingly like Lightning Bolt trying to play straight ahead hardcore with its rapid fire drumming and high pitched fiddly bass line. Sure it breaks things up and acts almost as light relief compared to the density and clobbering effect the drum and bass approach is molded into for the rest of the album, but it seems throwaway – a fun little live jam they recorded and left on at the last minute to fill out time.
‘Idiots’ is by no means an essential purchase or listen, but it is well worth keeping an ear open for. There’s still a little more work needed before they really blow your head off in the way you might want them to. There’s something missing here that prevents this good album from being a great one, but there’s still more than enough to keep it on the turntable for multiple listens. As I say, there’s at least one incredible song here, though it’s one of the more atypical moments on the record- if they can harness that magic and channel it a little more clearly, maybe be a little more merciless on themselves in the songwriting process, there could be something really unique here. They just need to rip away the influences from their sleeves first.
Scribed by: Jamie Grimes