21 November 2015

With the Dead - With The Dead

With The Dead are a new band with very familiar members. The guitarist/bassist and drummer are Tim Bagshaw and Mark Greening respectively, who used to be in Electric Wizard, a well renowned stoner band who I gave 9/10 last year for their album Time To Die (click). It was a trip and a half and not like any stoner rock I'd heard previously to that. The music on that album was the stuff of nightmares, the sound of intensely - or insanely - strong weed and paranoia creeping in. Still, great album. The vocalist is someone who has been at the forefront of extreme music in Britain for a long time now - Lee Dorrian, former Napalm Death vocalist (he sang on From Enslavement To Obliteration and the 'B' side of Scum (click). He also did vocals for Cathedral, who are treated like stoner/doom royalty in UK metal circles but I never really cared much for them. Mind, Vampire Sun was a cracking tune (bonus points if you've got the version with the Joe 90 intro) as was the song they did about Matthew "Witchfinder General" Hopkins. I believe I may have a Cathedral album kicking around the house. I may give it another listen...

The band formed in October 2014 and set to work creating their music. All the more remarkable given that Electric Wizard were on Lee Dorrian's record label Rise Above and were allegedly slinging mud in the press due to bad blood (according to an article I read in Blabbermouth), good to hear they were able to put it behind them and move forward. One look at the photo - as well as who is in the band - is enough to deduce this is unlikely to be a short album. First impressions are that it's an EP due to only having six songs but with a run-time of about 40 minutes or so, it's one long-arsed EP. Production duties were handled by Jamie Gomez Arellano.

Crown Of Burning Stars - An intro that sounds like screetchy high notes and some kind of sampled speech gives way into what sounds like Satan's car backfiring while Black Sabbath is on the stereo. Dorrian's vocals sound like Satan cussing out his car! Well, we certainly weren't expecting anything resembling Taylor Swift (seriously, someone sew her fucking mouth shut and stick nails in her eyes for good measure). Guitar tuning is 'Z' at the very least. The music is just one relentless dirge with no subtlety to it whatsoever, which is no bad thing in this instance. The guitars are heavy as fuck and the drums beat a slow, but relentless tattoo. The vocals sound very much like a tortured soul who is getting their innards dragged out of them.

The Cross is the next track and comes skipping in like a deformed dervish on Buckfast before breaking off into something else. Quite an unorthodox rhythm pattern on this one, certainly not predicted this one due to the intro sounding like something else. The sample of the priest reciting in Latin is a bit cheesy as we've heard it many times before - in fact, it sounds very much like one White Zombie used on Super Charger Heaven (which, incidentally, came from a movie called To The Devil, A Daughter. It wasn't very good even though Christopher Lee was in it). The sample itself plays while the song goes into something quite reminiscent of the Diamond Head song "Am I Evil?", which also happened on a previous Electric Wizard album. It's excellently done and quite atmospheric. And from what I've read, the Latin sample is from an Excommunication ceremony. Fucking awesome!

Nephthys comes in like a crawl, a procession. Another slow, doomy thing, it's not as bombastic as the first two, instead preferring to creep over the landscape. The vocals on this one are remiscent of Ozzy Osbourne if he didn't wail as much. Very good song. Sounding very much like waking from a nightmare and you're frozen for a moment or two. Feedback outro, very good.

Living With The Dead has some fucked up cartoon-like sample at the start before launching into an extremely slow dirge of a song. It's extremely heavy. A repeated refrain of 'living with the dead' rings through the song. A bit more variety to this one - clean mid section which acts as a blessed relief from the sonic torment before launching back into it. This is the soundtrack to torture and pain. This will be playing while the Devil's minions tear your flesh from your bones. And you will love it.

I Am You Virus is not as torturous as the previous songs - sure, it sounds like the sonic equivalent of the thing at the end of The Fly 2 but there seems to be a 'space warrior' vibe about it. Most likely due to the "whooshing" noise in the background. Whilst this is the lightest song so far, it still sounds like Satan's *insert heavy industrial machinery reference here*. Another clean passage but don't take the opportunity to relax as you know some heavy-ass stuff will be coming your way soon...and sure enough, it does. Leading us to the outro like a lost soul being lead to the Pearly Gates, it soon comes to an end.

Screams From My Own Grave has a percussive intro which goes on for a bit before crashing into another bout of slow-torture-death-music. This one is the longest song on the album at over eight minutes plus. As someone with an attention span that's as short as my height, it was quite a feat to sit though this. Nightmarish ending too, where the slow, tight riffs flow into a noise crescendo that sounds very much like a sound effect from a 70's sci-fi show (the kind where the men wore tight onesies and the women wore skirts up their arses and lots and lots of glitter make-up).

And that's the end of the album. And you know what? It was fucking tremendous. The production was muddy, but it seemed to suit the music. And that in itself was great - alternating from traditional structures to free-fall jamming. Extremely heavy without emphasis on speed and it all sounded natural, not just for the sake of it. This is not party music by any means, more like something to relax to. Definitely reminded me of the last Electric Wizard album which is no surprise. It's also made me re-evaluate my opinion of stoner/doom. As mentioned before in the Electric Wizard blog, I'd initially had it down as nothing more than guys in bell-bottoms trying to recycle the best riffs of the 70's. Nope, it seems so much more than that and if I decide to go on the stoner journey, I reckon I'll have a fun time. As for With The Dead - here is hoping these guys stick around and make more music.

10 - This is proof there is a God.

Chris J.

Top Track: Living With The Dead.

This album is available on iTunes.


Seems there is nothing YouTube-related for this band yet. Oh well. Have a Doge meme instead...

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