Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Review: With The Dead – 'With The Dead'

'With The Dead'

Given the past relationship between Rise Above Records (owned by former Cathedral vocalist Lee Dorrian), and Electric Wizard (whose founding rhythm section comprised of Tim Bagshaw and Mark Greening) having been a tempestuous one, the coming together of individual members of new doom metal trio With The Dead seemed like one of those “when hell freezes over” prospects. But nevertheless it has come to pass and the end result is a heavy dose of real doom that sees the distinctive voice of Dorrian set to the rhythmic talents that gave us 'Dopethrone'.

With such accomplished work in every member's respective discographies, it is evident that With The Dead is a band that has nothing to prove and is free from the shackles of everything that has come before it. Yet this isn't about resting on their laurels. With The Dead want to craft their own identity and have one hell of an album with to do it.

Opening with the blisteringly heavy 'Crown Of Burning Stars' the album asserts itself through a barrage of fuzzy riffs, thick bass, bludgeoning drums and anguished vocals. 'The Cross' follows on with a nice Sabbath-flavoured opening before descending into a meandering nightmare punctured by Dorrian's demented vocals. 'Nephthys' provides the album with its accessible centrepiece with it's nice pace, great riff and evocative lyrics it is a great introduction to not only the band but the genre as a whole.

Next is the semi self-titled 'Living With The Dead' with it's oppressive atmosphere and choking riffs it is a perfect summary of everything at work on this album. 'I Am Your Virus' swings into sludge territory with it's crusty lead riff, while subtle psychedelic effects it continues to amp up the brutal heaviness before hitting the brakes for a melodic interlude before the final beating. Rounding off the album is 'Screams From My Own Grave', a final valuable lesson in heavy that opens with a solo funeral doom drum line before the dense guitars hit, adding a little drone, and a lot more of those tortured vocals to put the exclamation point on the proceedings.

The album is grim, heavy, eerie and crushingly brilliant. There is fuzz on just about everything and the dominance of the different instruments varies a little from each song to the next creating interesting dynamics. But even with all this sheer brutality it remains melodic where it needs to, and nothing gets drowned out in the mix.

This is a stunning début from three veterans of the doom genre that acknowledges their past work, but seriously amps it up. The eerie atmospheres, use of samples, and that ever present pressure from the guitars is a simple but wonderfully effective combination that has set the bar just that little bit higher. Hopefully With The Dead will become a mainstay of the doom genre for years to come.  

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