Dead
We Won't Let You Sleep

 

Australian duo Dead minored in Big Business, majored in KARP and went for a full masters’ degree in The MelvinsWe won’t let you Sleep is the band’s third album installment in what they are officially dubbing as The Trilogy (a big time Melvins nod right there).  With honorable guest appearances from Kevin Rutmanis (The Cows, The Melvins, Tomahawk, etc.) and Toshi Kasai (The Melvins, Big Business) adding slide bass, additional guitar tracks, keyboards and back-up vocals, you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect with the Dead’s playful, bass-y buzzquake.  Just a little warning though…the more you let the album play from start to finish, the more you’ll find out that these guys are not simply happy to copycat and run.

Instrumental opener “Frankly” sets the tone with droning, dirge-diving bass lunges and funeral snare marches that subtly slip into slightly more energetic grooves.  “Fingers as Arrows” is a craggy, stop-start-a-thon of rickety angular grooves, ribcage breaking polyrhythms and Jace’s bass usurping the jagged guitar riffs.  There’s more attack element here than a lot of recent Melvs’ releases and the strange psychedelic keyboard howls and noise wisps give way to a jarring liquor shelf collapse of downtrodden doom riffing that calls to mind The Biz’s heaviest moments circa Head for the Shallow and Here comes the WaterworksKARP’s Suplex is also a valid point of reference due to the catchy, playful song construction dashing into freeway wreck destruction.  Even vocalist Jace is a dead-ringer for Buzzo and Jared Warren…hell, he even does some of those haunting, melodic whisper howls Warren sold to the bone on the Big Business classic “Another Fourth of July…Ruined,” atop an eerily familiar, tuneful riff dredge.

“Chartreuse Blew” relies on the rattling power of Jem’s rolling tom-drum breakdowns and militant snare marches with the riff attack going from tumbling Unsane-styled grooves to chaotic gas/brake tempos that make you wanna kill that guy in front of you that’s Sunday driving.  2:41 brings a careening meteor shower of gear ground riffage that would have been tailor-made for the Am-Rep roster, Touch n’ Go and Wantage.  A solitary, reverse-time drum stomp, muted guitar skronk and snake hiss vocals lead in “Where’s my Gold Star?”  Things ramp up to quick shudders of higher-end guitar noise before dipping back into a pond where the slimy things dwell and mate.  The weirdest thing about this tune is that it never truly freaks the fuck out; leaving it to the role of a window peeping, serial killer dirge that gets by on pure sleaze not volume.  “Frank Lee” is in the same Dahmer key but even slower and greased up with some trippy slide bass lickage from Rutmanis.  The chorale of distorted, severed vocal hushes might make this even more terrifying than the preceding track.

Ocean draining vocal roars, tireless tom/snare patterns and muscular riffs returns “Picking Teeth” back to the sludgy noise-rock the record kicked off with.  Kasai’s additional guitars add an almost harmonic, classic metal vibe to the skunk drunk white-washed, off-kilter punk rock dumpster rummaging.  Decaying sludge with the kind of heavily strangled bass muck you’d find on a prime Hammerhead record lends “Don’t Skimp on the Change” a really goddamn heavy set of legs to break at the knee.  In fact, the bass drives about 50% of this one with the other half dedicated to Jem’s thundering tom fury which is the kind of ruthlessness that throws babies off of buildings for fun.  Rutmanis ups the noise factor with more slide bass action as Kasai detonates noise guitar frequencies like C-4 in a crowded parking garage.  Whispered vocals morph to throaty roars and even a piercing scream or two; everything congealing into the album’s meanest, most pissed-off noisemaker.  There’s even a valiant dual guitar harmony ending that transports us to the land of dukes, vassals and senseless bloodshed all in the name of some bastard king (or bitch queen, whichever you prefer).

“To Hell with Me” is perhaps the album’s most disjointed, frenetic romp.  Displaying an almost Coltrane-level of “we don’t give a fuck” songwriting…riffs appear, disappear, reappear as shards of noise, the drums hammer out hypnotic metallic patterns, the heavy riffing goes into squalls of tempo-less free-jazz before the track fades out in a ritual amplifier drone bomb buzz.  Weird fuckin’ shit for sure…  Closer “Pylons” truly earns its place as an awesome album ender with a lengthy, Spartan drum/bass churl that takes several leisurely minutes to change course as it slowly introduces a burly, blues-basted vocal snarl.  At the 1:58 stopgap the band’s deadly stalker prowl turns into an elephantine sludge-doom riff that dissipates as soon as it gets going.  The sneaky, forked tongue slither continues yet again until another doom-y riff eggs on some classic rockin’ guitar goodness but this is a song all about the ending…all about leading the listener to a destination and that summit is a mutated, ultra-mangled Sabbath riff sent to the sky thanks to Toshi’s warped, Manzarek-styled 60s keyboard mindfuck.   Like I said, it doesn’t matter how you get there, it’s just the getting there that matters and Dead turn this song on its fuckin’ ear.  Far and away the album’s “Holy fuck,” moment…

We won’t let you Sleep is not going to be for everyone but fans of punk, hard rock, doom, metal, psychedelia, noise and free-form experimentation should give it a chance.  Yeah, I gave it some HEAVY comparisons to a few existing legendary bands early on and those still stand but by the time the record finishes there is something special here that is all of Dead’s own design.  This definitely gets my recommendation and I’ll be checking out the rest of their releases for damn sure.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
July 14th, 2017

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