The Death Riders
Soundtrack For Depression
posted on 7/2005 By:
The problem with listening to so much metal is that for all its wonders, the genre doesn’t exactly cover the entire spectrum of human emotion. Granted, there are zillions of metal sub-categorizations that appeal to a very broad range of sentiment, but pretty much all of metal relies upon a certain core of doom-and-gloom intensity. Now, you’d think that The Death Riders, with their grim black-and-white imagery and morbid song titles, would hardly be out of line with that same fundamentally metal sense of—dare I say it—angst. However, the misleadingly-titled Soundtrack For Depression is actually endowed with a rarity in the world of blastbeats and guitar solos: a sense of laid-back, easygoing fun.
The Death Riders play a mix of surf rock, punk, and poppy psychobilly that blends to create a weathered but upbeat conglomeration of styles. This stuff is great for long, lonely drives; the structures are simple and open, and the melodies are predictable but catchy enough to keep you interested. Guitarists Daniel Gray and Jonny Coffin trade off power chords and summery but slightly minor-key licks while Blasko of Rob Zombie “fame” holds down the band’s bottom end with solid but faceless efficiency. The effect is something like Misfits songs being covered by an undead version of the Beach Boys, and judging by the album’s art and the band’s physical appearance, it's totally deliberate. The aforementioned Daniel Gray whispers and howls with leathery, Lemmy-esque furor; his voice isn’t exactly a technical marvel, but the man’s gritty tone and charisma lend a little stormy clout to songs like “Under” and “I’m a No One.”
Soundtrack For Depression has no musical depth to speak of; there’s not a whole lot to dig into here beneath the stripped-down rhythms and guitar work. This is one of those albums that sounds like exactly what it is from the first moment you listen to it: a bunch of guys getting their jollies by wearing beaten-up leather jackets and writing fun little surf-punk songs about, alternately, death and barbecuing iguanas (“Mexican Radio”). The Death Riders are never gonna win any awards for innovation or technicality, but they’re not trying to. This is the musical equivalent of beach reading: lightweight, simplistic, easily digested, and wholly enjoyable. It’s summer, folks; lighten up, relax that metal grimace, and spin something a little less straight-faced on your next road trip. It’ll do ya good.
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