In a time when a lot of the more ‘mainstream’ rock and metal outfits seem to be stepping away from the darker side of their genre, it’s always refreshing when a band like the Dead XIII so unashamedly bring it right back to the borderline satanic sector in which it belongs. Lots of black, spades full of make-up, demonic screaming and plenty of songs (almost exclusively) about demons, death, hell, Beelzebub and such. Yet the group never find themselves wondering into the dangerous realms of parody or taking themselves so seriously that the logo of their name is just a series of scrawls (seriously, why do bands still do that?) and ONLY THE PUREST OF METAL LOVERS WILL UNDERSTAND THEM!
In fact, there’s not a great deal to complain about as far as this album is concerned. The band know their sound and although they rarely deviate from it, the old adage of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ very much comes to mind.
For those in need of a summary of when The Dead XIII are at both their best and most true to themselves, just skip straight to track number five, ‘The Fallen‘, an absolute gem filled with haunting strings, spooky keyboards and what can only be described as pure f**king brutality of the sort that will chill you to your bones and simultaneously melt your face off. Pardon the naughty word there, but it was absolutely necessary for the description we had to give.
Followed up by the brilliantly B-movie soundtrack tones of the ninety second piano based interlude, ‘Vigil‘, which itself cascades into the equally thunderous tones of ‘Angels‘, this is a trio of tracks that truly do stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Naysayers may claim that it’s an album that doesn’t really do anything particularly original, which is true, but not every single album needs to be a ‘Paranoid‘, ‘Reign In Blood‘ or ‘Black Album‘ (as in the self titled Metallica release and not the Jay Z album, of course), sometimes an album just needs to find a path and stick to it. Which is what these guys have done and have created an excellent collection of songs.
The only complaint to be had is that when the band’s frontman pulls away from his deep, menacing growl and tries to go into what sounds closer to traditional ‘clean’ vocals (see opening number ‘Bloodlines‘), the sound loses it’s power to a surprisingly dramatic level. Luckily, this is rarely an issue.
So fans of the more gothic side of metal rejoice, this one’s for you and it’s rather bloody good.