Dead Quiet released their third album, Truth And Ruin, on 11th September via Artoffact Records. In some ways this is a real throwback to the metallic excesses of the late 70s and early 80s, but after spending some time with it, it has revealed itself to be a lot more besides.
I’ve been on a bit of a journey with Truth And Ruin if I’m honest with you, dear reader – hence the slight delay in this write up appearing before your bleary eyes. I will start with an appeal for the benefit of everyone involved:
If you haven’t already, then I implore you not to watch the video for the track Partial Darkness, as it resulted in me borderline hating the track (and everything and everyone associated with it) for three weeks!
Lockdown has of course had impacts on the music industry at all levels, but nothing should ever get so desperate as to have a band resort to filming a video comprised of them performing the song theatrically in their shower at home! I’m not totally against a bit of light-heartedness in my metal, but this video takes it to such a level as to colour my view of the whole album. I’ve never been a quitter though…so I persisted…and I’m glad I did.
Dead Quiet’s sound on this album is anchored in the swirling organ sounds provided by Mike Rosen. It provides a thread throughout the album which is made up of seven tracks that cover a seriously wide range in terms of style and tone. This is something that I find increasingly rare as we sit here in 2020, with 90% of albums that land on our hard-drives consisting of four to ten variations on the same sound. And whilst I’m a lover of sitting in the dark under a chemical/alcohol-infused fog and being bludgeoned with the same riff for fifty minutes, there’s a reason that the phrase ‘variety is the spice of life’ caught on. This certainly isn’t a ‘stoner’ album: this is lyrically challenging songs wrapped up in a late 70s style hard (and sometimes progressive) rock.
Atoned Deaf starts us off and we are immediately in comfortable territory for any Angel Witch, or maybe even Spiritual Beggars, fans amongst us. Galloping riffs abound and the vocal hooks of Kevin Keegan (no sniggering amongst the football fans please) take centre stage. The vocals are distinctive – no way around that. They may not be everyone’s choice, but the more I listened the more I came to really enjoy his expressive and dynamic performance.
Forever Unsung is perhaps the lightest track on the album, with an a cappella intro and bluesy clean guitar licks. It swings, plain and simple, and then gallops its way to the end from around the three minute mark. Although this is the shortest track on the album, it’s probably the best place to dip in and sample the sounds within, because it demonstrates the depth and breadth of songs and styles that Dead Quiet deliver on Truth And Ruin.
my journey with Truth And Ruin follows that of Hitchcock’s Psycho – started with a shocking shower scene and ended with something of surprising and lasting depth. An album worthy of your time for sure…
Of Sound And Fury combines a really strong chorus with some great dual harmony guitar riffs toward the end. The riffs start to get heavier, and the bass lines more pounding, which leads perfectly into the song Truth And Ruin.
The title track kicks off in funereal fashion with an anguished vocal accompanied by a haunting violin line. This is where the more progressive elements of Dead Quiet’s arsenal really start to shine through. If you were to strip away the vocals (and I wouldn’t want to, by the way) the instrumentation for the first couple of minutes could even be mistaken for someone akin to Opeth. The variety of styles, by the time we are this far into the album, really keeps interest levels high as your ears attune to a shift from track to track.
Partial Darkness is still my least favourite track…maybe the nightmares associated with the shower scenes will always be with me…but in the cold light of day, it does have a touch of 80s metal theatricality which sets it aside from the rest of the album, and so contributes to the variety that is the album’s strongest attribute.
The Sign Of A Sealed Fate is the bluesiest track – with slide guitar and vocal hooks that work really well – this is where I think this record is most effective; in its slower and more melancholy moments. The guitar riffs are more prominent, and the organ adds texture, rather than leading the song. Duel riffs toward the end of the song are certainly an echo of early Maiden, and there’s even a hint of latter-day Thin Lizzy in there.
Truth And Ruin ends with Cold Grey Death which is the longest track by some way. The main riff immediately reminded me of Sahg – and any riff that reminds me of that band has got to be a killer! The playfulness that characterises the early part of the record, and Partial Darkness, is totally stripped away, and we’re left with a sound that is sombre, engaging, and epic in its scale. There’s no doubt that this is the ideal track to go out on, taking us on a real journey lyrically and musically.
So, there you have it – my journey with Truth And Ruin follows that of Hitchcock’s Psycho – started with a shocking shower scene and ended with something of surprising and lasting depth. An album worthy of your time for sure.
Scribed by: David J McLaren