posted on 11/2008 By:
It seems it was only weeks ago that I read Erik Thomas’s review of The Dead’s self titled debut. As it turns out, it was only weeks ago. Obsidian Records was apparently a year or so late in submitting that record for review, but The Dead were more punctual with their self released EP Nocturnal Funeral. In the intervening year, The Dead lost original guitarist Scott Edgar and bassist Adam Keheler took over six string duties. In an interesting move the band has elected to soldier on as a three piece, with no bassist. This is particularly surprising given the very prominent role the bass played on the band's debut. In another interesting move, The Dead recorded Nocturnal Funeral “live” in the studio and despite their thinned ranks, they managed to make one hell of a racket.
The Dead’s thick, murky guitar sound brings to mind Incantation; this crushingly heavy tone eats up a lot of the low end and makes up for the lack of a bass guitar. However, The Dead’s riffing style is a bit more adventurous than the straight forward death metal of John McEntee and company. Keheler’s frequent use of strident, dissonant notes and off kilter tapping passages is reminiscent of later day Gorguts, and the band’s off kilter grooves echo the musical madness of Demilich. However, all is not jarring dissonance and chaos: “At One with Evil” for instance has a mellow, melodic intro and a main riff of Celtic Frost-like simplicity, “March of the War Demons” has some black metal styled melody and the closing title track is seven minutes of lumbering doom. Over the course of six songs, The Dead manage to cover quite a bit of musical territory without compromising their solid death metal foundation.
The Dead’s decision to record Nocturnal Funeral live in the studio results in less clarity and punch than a traditional studio recording, but it lends the songs a sense of urgency and authenticity that more than makes up for a somewhat muddled sound. Songs this vicious and violent would suffer from the sterile sheen of modern production.
The Dead’s ability to blend brutal simplicity with deranged complexity, combined with their unique configuration and unconventional recording method makes Nocturnal Funeral a compelling listen. Those who like their death metal heavy and raw are advised to check this EP out.
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