Review: Deadhead ‘Bad Dog’

For all the outlets I have to source new bands, whether it be directly from these hallowed pages, via word of mouth, or elsewhere online, I have already accepted that the amount I know, as much as it is vast, is only the tip of a very large iceberg indeed. Sometimes I will put YouTube on, find someone I want to listen to, and leave it playing while I get on with my day. Eventually, what is playing is never what I started out with, like a starting point of Mono will lead to an airing of Loma, or the suchlike, just over an hour later.

Deadhead 'Bad Dog'

The one place I never go for musical inspiration is Instagram. Primarily a place for photos and videos, I use it both as a marketing tool and as a way of keeping in touch with friends and family, who are spread right across the globe.

So, I’m sure you can imagine my surprise then, when a ‘suggested’ page came up, and it was actually good. By good, I mean, something truly incredible. What I mean, in a more precise manner, is that Instagram, for once, threw up an absolute beauty of a band.

Now, when I say band, what I actually mean is a two-piece, who recruited other musicians along the way, to fill in parts when needed.

That band is made up of Jonny Gillard, and Rob Harvey, and together they are Deadhead. Let me tell you, dear readers, that what they are, is something truly fantastical. The pairing of these two has happened so that the fates could align to create this raging beast of an album entitled Bad Dog.

Bad Dog is a slathering, ferocious beast of a creature. It’s eight tracks of instrumental post-rock goodness, so epic, that it will be biting at the heels of the likes of The Ocean and PG Lost, with no fear of coming off second best. It’s a brand new, somewhat familiar, but completely engaging, education in just what talent is lurking in the UK. It’s every bit as visceral and engaging as anything that is emerging from the heart of Europe right now.

Fresh, intense, and emotional, even thinking about the album sends shivers down my spine. As a debut, it’s hard to even perceive that this is their first album, it’s so lavish in musicianship and production, that it truly feels like the third or fourth long-player from a long established band instead.

Right from the opener, Ferity, it hits like a heavyweight, and throughout the course of the album, the multi-layered feast of sound is an absolute joy to behold. From the opening chugging of the distorted guitar, and pummeling drum, it’s every bit as intoxicating as it is intense. With that added industrial sensibility, I’m instantly lost in a wall of noise.

Bad Dog is a slathering, ferocious beast of a creature…

Astir only solidifies my initial feelings for this work, and even though slightly slower, the subdued pace ebbs away over the course of the track, only to be replaced by the rush of a later outpouring, where the dark intensity is truly captivating.

Stay Back throws yet another side to the band, and with the disconcerting piano soundscape which rolls through gives me comparisons with Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails, and their The Fragile era intensity. Its textures are considered, and its richness is warming.

Track four, The Sky Is Red, is where the true viscosity of Deadhead is let loose. This huge expansive piece is where the culmination of the parts leading to this point literally erupts into a wall of sound, before smashing right through it. Orrible Lot pulls things back and is considerably more oppressive and darker in tone and mood.

Emotionally, it’s somewhat sour and sombre, but as it builds in pace, it feels like being pulled from the mud and elevated onto a higher plain of existence altogether. The progression is a joy to hear, and the level of precision in the ascension is phenomenal. This truly is a breathtaking work of extreme scope.

U.R.O.K is the moment it all comes together into something I cannot only hear but can feel too. If you close your eyes, you can literally feel this in the depths of your soul. It’s like a warm embrace upon hearing sad news, or the calm acceptance that even though something good has ended, it’s actually settled within your body too. A tranquil place, where the feel of the sun on your face is the only thing that matters.

Miasma, not wanting to be outdone, introduces strings into the arrangement, giving things a wider scope. On this, the added elements provide an extra layer of texture, to combust the sound even further. Noachis Terra closes the opus, and what a way to finish. This doesn’t in any way feel like a conclusion, as much as it does a reason to restart the album. As intense as anything else on the album, to finish is to go back to the beginning, and play through again.

As the album dies away, I step back and think about how many albums have instantly caught me and fired me up like this one has. There are a few, but not that many right from the opening bars to the dying seconds, without a lull.

So, for once, in conclusion, I have to thank the likes of social media, who without being a drone to, I would never have found Deadhead. This is just the start, and where it goes from here, I guess Deadhead alone knows, but wherever that may be, I will be right there, along for the ride.

Label: Independent
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Lee Beamish