Heads For the Dead
Slash 'n' Roll EP (2nd Review)

OH HELL YEAH BOYS AND GHOULS!

Spooky season is in full swing. I’ve been spending most nights catching up in Halloween Horror classics, tracking down new ones, just generally indulging in all things creepy and crawly during my favorite time of year. My music choices are certainly affected as well – subsiding on all the Halloween-themed and Halloween-adjacent music I can find. I know I’m not alone in this – you’re more than likely doing about the same.

Well, ya little monsters, have I got a treat here for you!

Last year, we reviewed Heads for the Dead’s excellent sophomore release, Into the Red, and since then we’ve all been on pins and needles waiting for more music from them. ALMOST just in time for Halloween (more on that in a minute), the band is back with a killer little EP of Horror Movie-inspired buzzsaw mayhem to give us the goods we’ve been dying for.

So what we’ve got are three brand new tracks all centered around some of the best of the best Horror classics, and two sweet little (and very appropriate) covers. First up is “Maniac,” written for the 1980 gore-obsessed slasher of the same name. If you loved what the band brought on Into the Red, you’re going to absolutely sink your teeth into this. They’ve taken the Swedish Death worship of their sophomore album, and cranked the buzzsaw up from 10 to 12. It’s like upgrading from a solid all-around Husqvarna to a friggin Stihl Pro logging chainsaw (ok so I realize you’re probably not all up to speed on the world of chainsaws but basically what I’m saying is the guitars are buzzy as all fuck here). The track also introduces a new element to the band’s sound – the use of very horror-soundtrack-appropriate keyboards/synths that really help take the theme of this album to a whole other level. I don’t know if this is something they’re planning on integrating into their sound full time, or if it’s just for use in the context of this EP, but either way it’s brilliant. It just really helps set that campy, all-out-horror mood that’s hitting me in all the right ways.

Second track “Halloween” (not a King Diamond or Misfits cover) – is the celebration of Michael Meyers we all need in our life. It starts again with those really clever synths playing out the actual Halloween theme we all know and love, backed by a steady drumroll and accented buzzsaw guitars, before the band launches into a punky, upbeat Entombed-inspired riff that would inspire a circle pit that would surround all of Haddonfield, Illinois. The track mixes up tempos throughout the song, kicking into higher gear with some sweet blast beats, and getting low on some nice and heavy stretches. The band brings back those Halloween theme synths to overlay the rest of the music a couple times, and we’re even treated to a sweet little solo for good measure. It’s a super fun track that’ll have you craving for “The Night of the Knife.”

Third track, “The Thing,”  does a really nice job playing into the desolate Antarctic landscape of the film, starting off with a really eerie stretch – once again letting those great synths carry the load of setting the scene, and layering some echoed, creepy whispers from vocalist Ralf Hauber (Revel in Flesh). The song is definitely the heaviest on the EP – crushing you with some simple, effective riffing, and using the synths and effects to give that sense of inescapable cosmic horror (ala The Thing). It’s a really clever and well-executed song that serves as a solid end to the band’s original work on the release.

The next track IS a Misfits cover, just not the one you’d most likely expect – that being the 1986 classic “Skulls.” Like the original, it’s a fun, quick-hitter with without a whole lot of frills, but an undeniably catchy chorus and melody that will worm it’s way into your brain for the foreseeable future. The band does a nice job of staying true to the original, while certainly adding plenty of their Swedish Death flavor. The EP’s final track, a cover of The Ramones’ “Pet Sematary,” is fucking excellent. I’m kinda shocked this song hasn’t been covered more (the only other version I can really find is from The Plain White T’s for the Frankenweenie soundtrack) but tickled pink that Jonny Patterson & Co. decided to here. While the original was certainly one of the band’s darker, moodier tracks, this certainly ups the darkness level quite a bit. I’m loving the bell hits during the song’s iconic chorus, the subtle blastbeat-driven bridge about half-way through the song, they really do an excellent job making this all their own, and is one of my favorite covers I’ve heard recorded in a long time. Super friggin’ fun stuff.

Heads for the Dead seems on track to become another one of those side projects that ends up being my favorite of the bands collective work. That’s by no means a diss on all their other bands (including the excellent Wombbath, Gorefest, Hail of Bullets and the aforementioned Revel in Flesh), but more a testament to just how good and fun Heads for the Dead really is. The only misstep for this EP is the fact that all this Halloween Horror-themed fun… Drops November 5th… I’ve no doubt that there are a number of unavoidable factors preventing this from coming out the Friday before Halloween this year, BUT COME ON, MAN! Oh well. That aside, everything about this EP is fantastic, and personally, I hope the added synths and effects (handled by Jonny Pettersson himself) become a regular staple for the band, because they definitely add a whole new dimension to the music that I’m digging the heck out of. Get your hands on this and extend the spooky season another couple weeks.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
October 29th, 2021

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