Dance With The Dead
Driven to Madness

OK soooooooooooo listen – I’m not exactly what anyone would call an expert in the world of electronic music, or even more metal-leaning industrial music, for that matter. No hate or disrespect or anything like that at all, it’s just not an avenue I’ve gone down much to this point in my life. With that in mind, I’m gonna go ahead and put myself out on a limb and hope not to make too big an ass of myself here, cuz I’ll tell ya what – California’s Metallic Electonic/Synthwave duo Dance With The Dead are making a compelling case for me to dive deeper into it, because Driven to Madness is just a fucking blast.

So from a metal fan’s perspective – right off the bat, there’s obviously a lot here to draw you in, especially with that excellent Creepshow-meets-Christine vintage horror cover art setting the stage. These clearly aren’t just casual fans of camp and gore and everything that makes horror films of the 70s and 80s so compelling – theres an obvious attention to detail that gives them almost immediate credibility to the uninitiated such as myself. Surface-level aesthetics aside, intro track “March of the Dead,” should only draw you in further. Featuring a guest appearance by the legendary John Carpenter (along with son Cody), the band actually gets off to a very metal-forward track, featuring the kinds of chugging, militant guitars and drums one might expect form the likes of White Zombie or Ministry. Having now gone back to take in the band’s back work, I can confidently say that, aside from a few select tracks from their B-Sides album (which is VERY Power Metal influenced), this is probably one of the most “metal” tracks the duo has ever put together, and it’s a hell of a way to get the album started.

But it’s also not the only time the band leans more heavily into the metal side of things here – “Sledge” also boasts some very John-5-esque riffage that, combined with the synths, creates a very anime theme-like feel to the track. It’s got a ton of energy, to the point that you can almost picture the action-packed opening sequence featuring lots of swords and ambiguously gendered characters flying around and striking dramatic poses. Then there’s “I’m Your Passenger,” that, if I didn’t know any better, I might mistake as being a new In Flames track in MIDI form. I know that’s probably a good way to turn a lot of metalheads away, but remember, this isn’t actually In Flames, so put whatever pent up frustration you have about their last 20 years of musical output on the shelf (this is as much a message to myself as anyone). It’s catchy as all hell, and I’ve had the melodies stuck in my head for well over a week now. Finally, last track “A New Fear” is the album’s most metal yet – featuring an almost equal dose of synth work and really epic guitars. It almost sounds like something Evergrey or Starkill might compose; a good amount of heft, some clever melodies and leads, all in all a really solid, memorable track.

On the more electronic-focused side of things, there’s still plenty that metal fans, especially horror and sci fi fans, can enjoy. Again, I know nothing about electronic music, but I DO know a thing or two about soundtracks, and there’s a lot of inspiration to be found here. “Firebird,” along with “Start the Thaw,” immediately bring to mind the bombastic, cosmic tones from composers Stephen Price and Basement Jaxx on Attack the Block, whereas the much darker, moodier “Hex” sounds straight out of the Blade trilogy – to the point that I can literally see Blade brooding around some underground vampire nightclub looking for answers and taking no shit. “Kiss of the Creature” throws a little bit of a curveball, with a track that certainly takes inspiration from Michael Jackson’s classic “Thriller,” along with a whole lot of Daft Punk love. For metalheads, this might be the least appealing track of the bunch, but it’s catchy as all get-out and, for these ears, certainly does not bring down the quality of this album.

My first review of 2021 was the fantastic The Thule Grimoires by The Ruins of Beverast, an album that was totally different than anything I was listening to at that time, and the perfect palate cleanser to help move me forward into a new year of music. Driven to Insanity is pulling off the same trick for me. There’s plenty to sink you teeth into with this project (not the least of which is that fantastic music video/Christine-homage for “Sledge” above – can’t wait to see some more videos from these guys). Whether you’re a long time Electronic Music fan, just getting into it or even if you’ve never had any interest at all, I highly recommend giving Dance With The Dead your time (and money). A crazy fun album and a great way to kick of 2022!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
February 2nd, 2022


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