Trying to break the mold can be a difficult feat. Sometimes in one’s efforts to be as unique as can be, one ends up overstuffing the mold instead of breaking it. Remember boys and girls, being unique doesn’t necessarily mean mashing all your favourite bands together and going “I’m different.” In today’s class we’re going to turn sounds into words for Canterbury, UK Alt-Metal four-piece Deaf Row‘s new EP, Buried Alive. Maybe I’ll be a cunt about it, or maybe you read the opening line already and decided I should go fuck myself like usual.
Deaf Row is a melting pot of a variety of different attempts. Imagine a game of Jizzcuit with loads from Brand New, Chevelle, Seether, and for whatever reason, your favourite thrash metal band decided to jump in and spice things up and some rather inappropriate moments. Moments throughout Buried Alive sling forth the potential for beautiful ambient angst the likes of which we’ve heard a plenty before but still for whatever reason enjoy the shit out of. Other moments, a consistency will have been reached to then be abruptly interluded by what is inarguably stereotypically entry level thrash compositions (see “Leech” at 3:05). If bands like Zeal & Ardor have taught us anything, it’s that style combinations are always possible, but a pleasing mixture is key, which after several playthroughs later, I found to be an Achilles heel for this act.
Where the teeth particularly start to grind is the ever-present and underpaid elephant in the room; recording quality. Vocals and string sections are at acceptable qualities considering this is an unsigned EP, drums, however, are where the budget was seemingly snipped and hard. Either poor mic’ing and zero trigger replacements combined with over complicated fill work can make for a painfully disappointing combination in a drastically important section of an amateur recording. Additionally, where string section volumes are solid enough for digestibility, tone experimentation could completely transform this product from an alright to a good god damn.
Now, all of that is obviously a ton of hate to slug back, but I want to make it clear that Buried Alive is a bad release and Deaf Row have some potential here. There’s creative effort and moments of emotional enthrallment that I find aren’t properly nurtured or are overstuffed with attempts at complexity. Opening track “Blood, Sweat, and Soil” has every chance at being a solid banger, but then over exaggerated and poorly mixed drum fills hit the hears, simplistic guitar arrangements with ebb and flow where tone manipulation could have created a more effective hook, and lastly lyrics are stuffed into places that give the feel of how fois gras is made (which you really don’t wanna look up by the way, or eat you jackass).
Always try to break the mold, but don’t do it by cramming as much suedo musical prowess as you can in there because if the mold doesn’t break, you’re just left with a mess of what could have been honestly fuckin’ awesome.
Written by Jason Greenberg
*edited by Danielle Kenedy