When The Deadbolt Breaks present us with a double album here. The first disc consists of eight tracks, while the second disc consists of one track, in five parts. They play a mix of traditional doom, stoner and sludge with even some more brutalish traces in some songs.
The first track, ‘The Woods Are Full Of Killers’, starts stately, with a style of doom very much like Reverend Bizarre. Two clean vocal styles are mixed and complement each other nicely. After this bit the band takes a more sludgy direction with screams and more abrasive riffing, guided by more angular rhythms. It is quite a lengthy track and it does drag a bit towards the end, the same atmospheric sludge riff being repeated just a bit too much.
The transition to the next track ‘The Scavengers Daughter’ is a sudden one, as the band opens with a stoner stomp which wouldn`t be out of place on an Acrimony album. Here the vocals are a bit too weak, they worked well on the slow doom riffs, but for this stoner part they could have been better. Still, nothing too bad or disturbing though. A lot of stoner bands out there would be quite satisfied with this vocal style. From the groove we suddenly fall into a very slow, ugly (in a good way) riff that would suit both sludge as well as funeral doom. It deteriorates to nothing, only to be replaced by a deadly slow grove with a growling vocalist making the whole thing just a bit darker. The ending is a bit strange as a sample of people talking takes us into the next song. It sounds like a bar or something. Sometimes you pick up some words and the subject matter turns out to be quite grim.
‘Sleeps In Burning Hills’ is up next and it opens with a slow, ominous doom riff. The growled vocals sound quite desperate, you can hear the singer`s pain in his voice. After about four minutes, a sample signifies a change in the song and When The Deadbolt Breaks takes a path towards post core territory. Hints of Neurosis, Red Sparrows or Isis can be heard and frankly, the band does this a lot better than the stoner stomp of the previous track. I can only hope for more of this to come! The riff keeps going for quite a while, but the band does keep it interesting and exciting. It all fades out into the sound of rain and thunder.
The rain makes way for picked guitars, playing a melancholic tune. A gloomy picture is painted here, and I am simultaneously reminded of My Dying Brides more experimental bits and of Long Distance Calling. As an instrumental intermezzo it works well. It is soothing, calming and remains so for the entire song.
We continue in the post core vibe, were a heavy voice tells a lamenting tale of woe. The music itself is quiet, held back. An arc of tension is built and then it all explodes into a heavy dirge, wailing vocals adding to the desperation in the music. After five minutes a more grooving riff sets in, mixing sludge with post core in a deadly way.
‘GunSwallower ‘opens up with a short bit of industrial riffing, to be instantly followed by a more traditional doom part, where the clean vocals work really well again. We then proceed into melodic doom, shifting to more industrial, angular riffs and back into slow murky doom. Quite a lot is going on in this track. The whole is repeated once again until it all stops in feedback. Suddenly an up-tempo grindcore section bursts out of nowhere only to sink back into slow, very slow doom.
Next track, ‘Hide The Bodies From God’, opens up quite chaotic with breakdowns and strange rhythms. After two minutes this chaos makes room for a melancholic melody, whispered voices and a more relaxed mood. This is the territory in which When The Deadbolt Breaks work best. The grind and hysterical stuff is something they should drop in the future as clearly their talent lays in creating atmospheric parts and combining those with doom. Nice touch is a sample of Mr. Kuklinski, also known as The Iceman. A piano even finds its way into the music at this point.
Last song on disc one is ‘We Are The Wolves’. It opens with just drums playing a shuffle. Then Bass and clean vocals join in. When the guitars join in, the vocals change into screams and the music is a kind of distorted, foul version of blues-rock. This melts into a chugging part with very low clean vocals. Death doom melodies pop up and it all seems to go to the end like this. At at the end a faster bit awaits us, the same shuffle kicks in and concludes the first half of this double album.
On a whole When The Deadbolt Breaks do a lot better in the post core and doom sections than in the other areas they have mixed in. A bit too much of a mash up of styles at some points and not everything works well.
Now we venture onward to disc two, containing the song ‘My Coffin Is Loaded With Sand And Fire’.
The track is cut into five pieces and the Part I doesn`t open too promising, with the vocals being almost off key in an attempt to sound all Joy Division and Sisters Of Mercy. But they don`t have that certain something that makes Ian Curtis and Mr Eldritch great vocalists, the vocals just sound weak. Musically it is a shuffle, a bass line that keeps repeating and a guitar playing some leads in a cloud of reverb. Only at the ten minute mark does the music change into a more melodic doom riff that takes us to the second part.
Part II opens with a surprisingly ordinary and standard sludge riff with matching vocals. And what makes great sludge great, namely the hate and rage, is not present here. Around the two minute mark a stoner bit comes in, with the same vocal weakness as on the second track on the first disc. These two bits alternate for the entire track, making this an exercise in mediocrity.
Onward to Part III. A psychedelic instrumental with tribal drums and reverbed bass and guitars. This is actually quite good and another proof that these guys should stay away from stoner and sludge, but focus on their other side instead.
Luckily Part IV opens up with just that. A great mixture of post core vibes, melodic doom and melancholy. The vocals even remind me of old Anathema and the atmosphere is thick and warm. When we are almost eight minutes into this trip, a woman’s voice enchants us, enticing us to follow her further into this swamp, like a siren luring it`s victims onto the rocks, later on the male vocals come in and now they work really well again. This is a great track.
Now the final part is upon us. The post core vibe is kept going, with maniacal vocals screaming and a dense atmosphere. After five minutes the music almost dies, just a distorted guitar remains. Then everything suddenly washes back over us, the female voice luring us in again, yet as soon as it came, the music retracts, leaving only feedback and the woman. Such a great voice. Quietly the music comes back like a tide going in and out taking the voice away with it when it rolls back out to sea. In the end, only feedback remains.
So, here we are. A double album that was quite an adventure. It has some very strong parts and some weaknesses. If When The Deadbolt Breaks sticks to the post core/doom style they have a great future ahead of them, as they are really great at this. The stoner and sludge however is not their forte and should be avoided. Keeping those influences in the mix will deter people from buying the album I think.
Scribed by: Kevin Kentie