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Review: Dead? - Dead?

Label: Ancient Dreams Records
Year released: 2009
Duration: 46:45
Tracks: 12
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 3.25/5

Review online: September 19, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
Readers Rating

Rated 3.43/5 (68.57%) (7 Votes)

Dead? is a project from Kaiser of Ad Hominem, a band I must confess I have never heard, but who seem to get some pretty good press, and coupled with some guest appearances from members of the likes of Forgotten Tomb and Frangar, we have a bit of a underground BM supergroup thing happening here. This self-titled long player is filled with straight up pummeling Black Metal of the old school, and while there is some infectious riffing and competent execution, ultimately this album does little to raise Dead? above the ever expanding crowd of similar bands squashed into this niche.

The ever present intro track is often a waste of everyone's time, ambient swirls of noise and the like often doing little to enhance an album. This is however, one place where Dead? really hit the mark, with a very nice, slightly off-kilter piano intro in the (I guess) ironically titled album opener "Alive?" This makes way for the rest of the album when the Black Metal kicks in with a scorching traditional BM riff that carries us through the remainder of the track. This is the mainstay of the album – traditional Black Metal, with melodic tremolo riffing and rolling drums, with the one-two punch of "Alive?" and "The Abject", delivering exactly what you'd expect from this kind of music. And that's it really. From here on in we are treated to 10 more largely similar tracks of pretty straight up BM with frequent opportunities for some fist slamming banging of the head that never really moves outside of the narrow scope it sets itself. This isn't a bad thing by any stretch, the music is well written and performed, and there are plenty of tight riffs to go around, but this is neither different enough to continually capture your attention, or honed to the point that its traditional styling carry it above the crowd. Take for instance Bloodbath's Breeding Death EP – utterly unoriginal but so well executed it didn't matter. Dead? are not doing the same thing for BM. There are real flashes of ability scattered about, such as the crunchy intro riffage of "Contempt Unlimited" or the evil tremeloing of "Essence of Non-Future" which has some class riffs and some much welcome vocal diversity, but neither track capitalizes, instead dropping back into the generic. It's a bit of a shame, because these guys definitely seem to have the potential to pen something epic ("Le Mort Joyeux" has some searing riffs, and the title track closer really shows what Dead? can do when they give themselves room to move), but in the end I suspect they are mired by a philosophy of kvlt that prevents them stepping out of the traditional BM comfort zone.

Dead? does not suck, not by a long way, but neither is this an album you will spin frequently. It might well be an interesting diversion for a few listens if stripped back BM is your bag, and if they were opening for someone I was at a gig to see I'd stay and watch their whole set, but, with the exception of individual riffs here and there, this is production line Black Metal that ultimately isn't interesting enough to distinguish them from the masses. Dead? are definitely a band to keep an eye on in the future if they can expand their horizons, but the debut will appeal to only a very limited audience.

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