Dead Register

Crack open a bottle of Mead, wash it down with a few shots of Absinthe (the kind with wormwood, not that wimpy shit), slash both of your wrists and slowly bleed out while the debut full-length Fiber from dreary Georgian dirge merchants Dead Register takes you off to the land of no light.  The band’s debut EP TRVNS BLVK was a formidable introduction into the arena of isolation; ready, willing and able to take on all comers that proclaim Killing Joke, Shiner, Joy Division, Fields of the Nephilim, My Bloody Valentine, Godflesh, Neurosis, Bauhaus, Rozz-era Christian Death and early Katatonia (musically, not vocally) as prime influences.  It’s no secret that I’ve followed main-man M. Chvasta (vocals, Bass IV, regular bass here) through his other excellent bands Light Pupil Dilate and Palaces which were different, angular, angry trips altogether but here he croons with a floating, arid voice that perfectly rides the music’s highest crests and heaviest lows.  Chvasta isn’t the only star of the show here as his wife Avril Che colors in the music with intricate texture work with rumbling bass synths and plenty of atmospheric keys while drummer Chad Williams provides the pound when necessary and the restraint when needed.

Opener “Alone (a re-record from that fantastic EP)” is the soundtrack to a dark night on the bourbon bottle where the rain won’t stop falling; the ones you’ve loved betrayed you and all options have run out.  Higher-end riffs twinkle and twang with unusual uplifting manna until the riffage takes sharp turns into bleak, ruined industrial towns of begotten doom.  The tribal, rhythmic pulse reminds me of Enemy of the Sun-era Neurosis but dialed down to an atmospheric billow instead of a godless plunge which only complements the sound and never overtakes the myriad of texture splashes.  There’s grace, delicacy and beauty to be found here but turn your back for a minute and those crawling riffs will sink the final knife in.  Even in summer this sounds great but I can tell you right now this is going to be a winter favorite for sure, just as the band’s EP was for me.  Those autumnal, lifting bass guitar leads disguised as regular six strings really create some godlessly grand juxtaposition with the keyboards for an experience that will root itself in your brain like a 100 year old tree.  Well, okay, we can stop the review here because this album’s fuckin’ great…alright, I won’t, if you’re gonna fuckin’ push me.  I’ve also got to add on this track that Williams’ shape-shifting beats are another particular highlight because he sticks to no singular format.

The title track drizzles in with a haunted acoustic bass line before a dirty, sewer-lickin’ riff provides harshness and crush that’s enough to bulldoze a city block.  This sucker’s got a heavy backbone throughout with little musical light shining through Chvasta’s cryptic lyrics and begotten vocals which truly come to life against a living, breathing wall of rolling, devastating percussive down-strokes.  Stops/starts abound showing the group’s affinity for the wilder side of the 90s that most punks have forgotten about or just simply chose to ignore.  You can hear Che’s wispy background vocals in certain places; buried deep in the background leaving M’s leads to go from a deep (but not cheesy goth) grumble to higher stretches up his register…the guy’s a good singer and he knows how to use his voice.  I fuckin’ love the way that these sounds wind together…an upper atmosphere bass melody going into a winding lead with oodles of depth and heft plummeting behind the lushness.  Like I mentioned, this is the kind of record you want with you on the last night of your life and the sharper, screechier soundbytes that sparsely enter in the second half echo of an Am-Rep explosion that never quite comes, though the rhythmic workout that follows makes Tool seem like a bunch of slackers.

Again the band flirts with Am-Rep’s skirt with the piercing screech factor that leads in “Drawing Down” but soon the song turns into a bottomless, vacuous dirge where the towering spires of bass instrumentation and keys create a completely hypnotic jam that’s so good because it sinks into a vibe of cosmic majesty that tipped off flashbacks from one of my 300+ psychedelic trips.  Soon hope turns to despair with a thunderfuck beat rife with steady rockmanship and hard-edged fills that smash apart every single piece of the drum kit in jazzy fervor.  It showcases one of Dead Register’s greatest assets for music fans looking for something different; they can change up what they do in seconds without sounding unfocused or cluttered.  Vocals tempered on a blacksmith’s anvil of passionate rise and fall ebb like the tide with the music following in Chvasta’s footsteps.  Che deserves special mention on this one because she digs into such tasteful depth with the keys and lower foundations without ever providing too much flash.  The song itself is the perfect teetering tightrope walk of Godflesh’s ugly English piston-crush with all of the tricked-out instrumentation of the bands that I mentioned in the first paragraph…but it’s all about taste here.  There’s no overplaying, just killer playing.

Fun fact, producer Dan Dixon did a goddamn good job on this record and he also produced post-Shiner material from The Life and Times as well as noise-rock upstarts Whores.  So, you know this fucker has the production needed to take the songs the extra distance.  “Grave” digs deeper into the same mine with ultra-glue backing riffs giving way to a skyward vocal melody and instrumental work to match its grand intentions.  The bone-excavating, half-step doom riffs in this one bunker down deeper than a World War II German platoon with tension alleviated by heavenly keys, smoldering bass melodies and a touching vocal performance.  It’s one of the record’s best pieces and immediately has that quality you want to hear again and a fuckin’ ‘gain.  Hymnal synths and gloriously rising melodies soar as high as any Midwestern space-rock greats crafting a jam that hits every peak, valley and crescendo without missing a single target.

All about buoyancy, constantly moving percussive punches and misty drifting basslines, “Entwined” doesn’t so much begin as a song as it slowly phases into existence from another realm.  The trippy atmospherics are swallowed by a leviathan of grimy riffage that stays for just a moment before Jonah aimlessly wanders off into the whale’s belly where plateaued melodic riffs bounce off the fleshy walls of the beast alongside hallucinogenic drum flash and glossy yet truly hopeless key/texture manipulation.  Despite a few downturns into oppressive, padded-wall riffing this tune retains a much more up-tempo, energetic ideal than the majority of the album’s songwriting.  Not than any amount of gloom can bring this motherfucker (me) down, but it’s a cool change-up nonetheless.  Closer “Incendiary” is ugly, gnarled and twisted like an old crone’s face right from the get-go, collapsing into forlorn, stick-breaking carnage, ripped-up doom riffs with melodies laid over-top and a bleak beyond blackness vibe that only lifts when M piles on his pleading, dyin’ on a wire vocal magic.  It’s hard to come up with words when you’ve been reviewing so long, but let me just say the tragic, altered frequency low-end leads are the kind of stuff that will rip your soul naked until you’re left begging for your last night on Earth.  The tune’s HEAVY but not in the way you think.  It’s not about smashing you with riffs but more about seeing just how much despair, depression and desolation that the human eardrums can take.  Dead Register pulls it off here (and across every inch of the album), making the subtleties of the construction look pretty easy in the process.

Fiber is fantastic and I was plenty blown away by TRVNS BLVK…really blown away, honestly.  There is a surrealist, triumphant, transcendental darkness buried deep in these glorious songs that nobody I’ve heard in the style in recent years can quite touch for me.  Anybody into the gloomy stuff but who’s sick of cookie-cutter songwriting and the same ol’, same ol’ atmospheric touches should give this a listen.  It’ll be in my top 10 this year for sure.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
September 14th, 2016


  1. Commented by: Rabid1

    Nice review, man. After listening to a couple of the embedded tracks I keep thinking of Junius. Great find and bonus that this is the type of metal my wife loves.

  2. Commented by: Clauricaune

    I agree, it does remind a lot of Junius, which isn’t a bad thing at all. I enjoy it quite a bit.

  3. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    Reminds me of what I used to love about Tool, and also of old goth rock. neat band layout too, I like unconventional bands.
    I fucking love this.

  4. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    maybe a little Pinkish Black in there too.

  5. Commented by: Jay

    Thanks for the comments and the kind words on the review. Glad you dig it Rabid and that the missus does as well. Always a plus when you can turn something up to full blast and the household doesn’t turn into a battle. I didn’t really think about it first but DR does remind me a bit of Junius…another pretty good band! Thanks for the insight, you too Clauricane!

    Same here Nick! I have a huge longing for the old goth/deathrock kind of sound and this hits that same sweet spot. It’s heavy, desolate, depressing and atmospheric but with great songwriting that never gets boring. DR turns an unconventional lineup into solid gold without ever falling into gimmick. I hope they keep making ’em and also hope they tour sometime soon. I’ll definitely be there.

  6. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    I like this more and more every time I hear it.

  7. Commented by: Chvasta

    Avril made this video for "Fiber":
    She's made another for "Grave" to be premiered next month. :-) We hope you enjoy them.
    'Vasta/Dead Register

  8. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    My pleasure.

  9. Commented by: bast

    Hey good recomendation I’m digging this too, thank you.

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