The Dead – Deathsteps to Oblivion

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Unleashing their third album, Australian death metallers The Dead confront the senses with an energy sapping, senses consuming slavering beast and that is just the first track upon Deathsteps to Oblivion. The title perfectly sums up the corrosive and emotionally damaging journey the band drags the listener upon. It is an intensive examination of thoughts and emotions traversing a quintet of excruciatingly heavy and intensive soundscapes soaked in a pestilential fusion of death and sludge metal filtered through the darkest doom laded climate imaginable. It is a sound which belongs to all three styles yet is uneasy settling in any, creating its own domain of raw originality which is familiar but more so innovative. It is a harsh and demanding proposition but also one unafraid to melodically and sonically explore its imagination and providing potent evidence as to why the band is so revered in many quarters.

Formed in 2005 with a line-up which included members of Obfuscate Mass and Misery, the Brisbane band swiftly released a demo followed by the Armoured Assassin single in 2006. Following a second demo the band’s self-titled debut album was unveiled the following year, an encounter making an instant and imposing impression on the underground scene. With the Nocturnal Funeral EP subsequently under their belt, as well as increasing their live reputation with shows over the years alongside bands such as Behemoth, Obituary, Kataklysm, Psycroptic, and Ulcerate, The Dead gripped greater attention with second full-length Ritual Executions. Widely acclaimed through its independent release and a reboot through Diabolical Conquest Webzine which evolved into Transcending Obscurity and release the new ravenous exploit from the band, the album lured the broadest attention and spotlights, yet as Deathsteps to Oblivion infests the psyche you sense it was nothing compared to the response the new encounter has the potential to trigger. The line-up of vocalist Mike Yee, guitarist/bassist Adam Keleher, and drummer Chris Morse consume and immerse the listener with an aural suffocation which is as inhospitable as it is inescapably captivating, an incitement stirring up shadows and intimidations which seduce as they savage the senses.

Opener Maze of Fire immediately confronts and surrounds ears with a web of threatening sinister voices, their demonic roars the lure into a wall of debilitating heavy handed riffs and equally destructive rhythms. Within that trap though there is a melodic coaxing from the guitar which sparks the imagination as still varied and intimidating vocals prowl over thoughts with their intrusive narrative and tones. It is a fascinating entanglement to be lost in, especially with the slip into haunting melodic scenery which is as visually potent as the visceral sounds and vocals which soon share its passage in time threatening. It is a track which inspires different feelings and explorations in the imagination with every listen, something apply to all songs on the album, but a perpetually gripping and challenging persuasion.

The following Disturbing the Dead is just as carnivorous in presence and tone, arguably even more predatory as it crawls with torment laden intent over the senses. Its first half is an unrelenting scourge of doom empowered angst and intensity, a thoroughly appetising violation but from there it without losing funereal despair and malevolence, a sonic and creative enterprise is agitated to lure like a beacon in the thick sludgy tar of the song’s insatiable heart. It is an intriguing and suggestive offering which as its last note lingers in the ear, seems like another world to the one dawning on a rally of gunfire and with destructive and blackened voracity, emerges as The God Beyond. It is the rawest assault imaginable, a caustic sonic haze frequented by hate and fury, but temporary as the battle field returns to provoke a richer and clearer, but no less torturous tempest of sound and exploration. A constant test and provocation, the track is a maelstrom which is uneasy on the ear but wholly seductive upon thoughts and emotions. It is a song which it is hard to get a full handle on in sound and narrative but one inspiring a hunger to find the answers within its cavernous despair.

Terminus swerves in on a rhythmic seduction next, tribal and suggestive beats from Morse transfixing with exotic persuasion whilst bass and guitar flirt with their own sonic teasing. This is again just the doorway into the harshest shadows and challenging depths of the band’s creative rabidity, a serpentine breath accompanying the emerging vocal scarring and ruinous air of the track. Of course it is only part of the picture, melodic intrigue and clean vocal tenacity adding their twists to the sonic mystique and imagination which evolves within the black fog of sound. The track sends shivers down the spine as it seduces and gnaws on the psyche, taking best track award though the closing title track seriously challenges there. It too is a smothering tapestry of threat and invitational suggestion, extremes colluding and toying with each other within a cavern of uncompromising and ravenous aural profanation.

The five years between albums has only seen The Dead find new fears to exploit and nuances to discover in listener and their music respectively. Deathsteps to Oblivion is not for the faint hearted or emotionally sensitive, but to challenge and reward the corners of mind and soul it is maybe the most essential must investigate release of the year.

Deathsteps to Oblivion is available digitally or on limited edition CD now via Transcending Obscurity @ Transcending Obscurity https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/album/deathsteps-to-oblivion-death-metal-sludge

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RingMaster 19/11/2014

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