DEAD REGISTER weaves an interesting blend of varied shadowy elements into their sonic web. The baritone croon of their lead singer soars with the rest of the shoegazing shimmer. They are heavy but not metal, with the more metallic elements serving as a booming undertone, and head banging is not the sole focus of what they do. Of all the metal sub-genres, it sounds like doom is the one they are most influenced by. Additional listens to this album finds the guitar melodies sticking with me just as much as the vocals. They took their time with the production, as all of the layers have plenty of space to sit in the mix without feeling like a murky mess.
The pace picks up a little for “Ender,” which find the vocals given some thoughtful nuances, like when the word “Thoughts” is accented with more grit in the otherwise smooth verse. When it comes to using terms like verse, it is in concept only as the structure is somewhat loose, allowing their songs to have more of a flow than adhering to a rigid verse/chorus formula. The vocals always follow the predictably bigger at the chorus formula, and let things build in a more organic fashion. The songs here swirl around you and are immersive in the way they are draped around you. “Heresy” has more of a new wave feel, without having to rely on the synths to take the lead. The guitars cry out of the layers of sound that finds the bass and drums anchoring things to a more driven tempo. Things get more dynamic, but not heavier when the song builds – which is fine by me.
Dead and Gone’s “Blood From a Ghost” is an interesting choice of song to cover. They were an obscure band from the Los Angeles death rock scene from the 90s whose members went on to form Alaric. If you shot dope in the late 90s in West Hollywood then you are probably familiar with these guys. There is more movement to the heavier “Monochrome” – it slinks rather than grooves, before building into a stormier crescendo. The drums do some pretty interesting things along the way. I like the more palm-muted tension. This song probably has the most heft. I would not call this metal, though it carries the kind of melancholic mood most relate to , it’s almost like the depression is coming out sideways as aggression here.
The key selling point for me is it answers the question I ask most music, “Is it dark enough for me?” I think this is a step forward for the band in how they not only crafted these sounds, but came up with a songwriting thumbprint of their own. They are not tied to one genre. Heavier post-punk would be the elevator pitch for these guys. So fans of bands like Voices or Alaric will dig these guys. I am impressed, as I see this as an album I’ll return to. I think the biggest compliment I can give these guys is how quickly this album made its way to my iPod, as it’s something I would listen to on a fairly regular basis – it sits nicely between my goth tendencies and the more downtrodden doomy fare. Check out their Bandcamp and taste for yourself.