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The inability to pin down the Dead Register sound is almost as enjoyable as the music itself and the expansive web of flavours making it up. The Atlanta trio weave a tapestry which seems simultaneously made up of essences from gothic and death rock, post punk and dark pop, doom and post rock and more. As shown by debut album Fiber, the richness of those textures is a genre crossing emprise of craft and imagination. Yet there is something easily accessible to its busy body of imagination igniting invention and atmospheric drama too, an almost familiar presence which still defies recognition. The result of it all is a release which has a uniqueness few can emulate and a fascination which simply seduces ears and emotions.
Formed in 2013, Dead Register began as the creative union of vocalist/bassist M. Chvasta (ex-Palaces; ex-Light Pupil Dilate) and his wife Avril Che (bass synth, textures, keys, backing vocals). The programmed rhythmic side of the project was replaced the following year by Chad Williams (ex-Magnapop) with a wave of writing and subsequently the live honing of songs live following. Bringing six of their favourite tracks together, Dead Register now release Fiber; an introduction which bewitches and challenges in equally compelling manner.
From its first moments, Fiber is a leviathan of monolithic, doom infused temptation sparking and feeding off the imagination. It manages to be imposing, bordering portentous, but with an infectious virulence and emotively melodic character of sound which does not so much temper its dark side but blossoms in its embrace. It all starts with Alone and a lone and slim melancholic melody. It is the spark for a doom loaded awakening of raw riffs and a deliciously gravelly bass groan. A suggestive ambience lays in its shadows too before the instantly impressing tones of Chvasta’s croon and the rhythmic shuffle of Williams help unveil new depths in the outstanding encounter’s increasing emotion and drama. Che’s harmonies float like gossamer in that air whilst the track takes on a Southern Death Cult meets Modern English meets Swans presence across almost ten minutes of sonic and vocal bliss.
It’s impressive and gripping presence is matched in might by the album’s title track next. From its initial grouchy growl in metallic riffs and bass lures, the song has ears and thoughts thickly involved with an intimidating creative theatre and emotive exploration. It gently nags and openly immerses the senses in a slightly corrosive but engaging proposal, everything about it a skilful and imaginative merger of contrasts. Rhythms are irritable yet rousing, melodies poetic against almost ravenous sonic atmospherics, and Chvasta’s beguiling voice the descriptive haven within a tempestuous climate and raw wind.
A mouth-watering post punk incitement opens up the rhythmically irresistible Drawing Down next; it continuing to make ripe appearances within the evocative landscape and post rock/ gloom-gaze heart of the third track. At times there are spices sparking thoughts of bands like Echo and The Bunnymen and The Birthday Party, other times a surge of invention hinting at a Godflesh or Palms, but all strands within the band’s captivating ingenuity linked by the ever impressing vocals and the tenaciously seducing rhythms.
Grave offers the darkest, dankest climate of the album so far, its atmosphere almost clinging to the senses as guitars and bass cast emotively picturesque lures serenaded by the rich expressive tones of Chvasta. As all tracks, it has thoughts off on their own creative tangent whilst embracing the narrative offered by voice and melodic intimation; a craft and success unsurprisingly found in the following Entwined too. Even with the riveting throaty grizzle of the bass, a flavour hard to get enough of within Fiber, the song has a warmer tone to its predecessors. It has an almost mystical air, especially through its sonic and melodic design, though again raw and erosive shadows lurk and crowd their magnetic insinuations for great volatility in another lingeringly memorable moment on the album.
Closing up with the heavy seductive oppression of Incendiary, a track rivalling Grave for strength of suffocating emotive intensity, Dead Register transfix and thrill with every twist and turn of Fiber. Though maybe not quite matching those before it for personal tastes, the final track epitomises the qualities and craft of the band whilst exciting the senses and imagination. Again contrasting textures and elements collude through a kaleidoscope of styles and sounds to create something unlike any other proposal heard in a long time and likely to be found again this year outside of the trio. Fiber is dark magic, emotional trespassing, and quite wonderful.
Fiber is released May 6th via AVR Records digitally and on CD and cassette @ https://deadregister.bandcamp.com/
Pete RingMaster 06/05/2016
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