I had an idea that Waste, the second full length release by Los Angeles’s Deathchant on RidingEasy Records, was going to be a fun record right off the bat based on a handful of things: The name of the band, and the album cover, both of which are awesome, as well as giving me an idea of what to expect from the sound. Additionally, as I was researching them for this review, I kept encountering the term ‘proto-metal’ which was used to describe their sound.
As a genre-description, proto-metal has been used a lot more frequently the last few years, describing any number of bands who had a similar sound or aesthetic to many an early 70s band that were influenced by, or existing parallel to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last five years mining these obscure bands myself, so All of these quipped my curiosity enough that I was excited to dive into Waste.
Proto-metal is an apt description right off the bat as the first notes to Rails roar to life after some feedback squall. The tone is pretty describable as an early-70s boogie-riff vibe and attack, but not as ‘fuzzy’ as one might expect from a stoner band. Rails works as a great album opener, rollicking along, as vocalist/guitarist T.J. Lemieux and guitarist John Belino trade some nice lead work. Things take a trippier turn at the mid-way point with a psychedelic break down before the dual-lead, Thin Lizzy-esque guitar leads weave their way to the song’s conclusion.
Not letting their foot off the gas for an instant Black Dirt kicks right on in with another nice, memorable riff. Catchy lead work is displayed again, as the rhythm is held down well by drummer Colin Fahrner, and bassist Greg Camacho. The band really let’s fly to close the song out.
bursting at the seams with riffs, Lizzy-esque leads, driving rhythms, and all the twists and turns any proto-metaller could ask for…
The mood changes to a more menacing tone with first single, and accompanying amazing video Holy Roller, a driving, thrash-style riff makes up the body of the song. reminding me a bit of Brooklyn/Los Angeles throwback-thrashers Early Man. Lemieux’s vocal stylings conjure up comparisons to the howl of Big Business/Melvins Jared Warren, or Austin Barber from Oakland’s Saviours.
Holy Roller immediately gives way to Gallows as Lemieux and Belino again show off their adeptness at the dualling-lead approach. Gallows offers up a dizzying display of riffs, leadwork, and time changes. Lemieux’s vocals, while distorted, sound great on this track and served as the centerpiece of the album for me as I was absorbing Waste.
The title track Waste is next and offers up a riff-driven punk-y, bash fest. Sequenced well following Gallows, Lemieux and Belino offer up more proto-thrash riffage, catchy as hell , until we bring it all down with another chunky riff, as the band takes a turn, weaving Waste (the song) to its close. The album is then brought to an end with two-fisted Thin Lizzy bangers of Plague and Maker, a driving instrumental which is the shortest song on the album at three minutes twenty plus seconds.
Tonally, Deathchant had me thinking about Swedish bands like Witchcraft and Graveyard. Not in approach, but in tone. Again, Waste isn’t super fuzzy, or bass-y in sound that are most usually associated with stoner rock, it’s a cleaner, and when the band does get chunky, it has me thinking early thrash metal more than stoner rock.
Waste is a fun record all the way around and bursting at the seams with riffs, Lizzy-esque leads, driving rhythms, and all the twists and turns any proto-metaller could ask for.
Scribed by: Martin Williams