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Album Review: TBA

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Album Review: Deadlock - Bizarro World

Death metal, by its very nature, is rammed full of the most voluble, fearsomely foul vocal content – an attack that is intentionally punishing on the old ear sockets. Naturally, this is usually accompanied by an overdose of distorted atonality and rhythmic artillery, but the newer concept of melodic death, melodeath if you will, has introduced an escape route for those battered lug-holes. Guitars that fission away from the more obvious dissonant chug; percussive patterns that smash holes to enable them to break out, build layers or deconstruct themselves. Recently, a plethora of melodeath bands has applied the same ingenuity to the striking death verbals that define the genre. Suddenly bands are finding multiple vocal styles within a single track and Deadlock, with their pincer maneuver of Johannes Prem and Sabine Scherer (nee Weniger), are fine exponents of the art.

This latest album sees the Germans again delving deep to divide themselves into rampaging, jagged guitar backing Prem’s devilishly macho, grottily-guttural growls, as well as pop rock melodics that rise and fall with Scherer’s soaringly angelic, transparent delivery. In fact, Bizarro World, may well represent the very breaking point where rock splits and runs away (screaming) from metal. No greater is the gap between murk and purity than on “Earthlings” where Prem blurts out a chunk of gunk as the drums falter so hard they slip into partial breakdown. Eventually they dig themselves out of a tight spot with a clunking of gears and a helping shove from Scherer. “Virus Jones” and “Brutal Romance” are other fine examples with the rhythm driving forth with Prem in tow to carve out a murky, brutish rut through to a break in the clouds. Here, the drums lock down to the slow tick of a metronome, the guitars shift up an octave and Scherer flings back the curtains to let in the sunlight of her crystalline vocal.

At times, a change of pace is deliberately implemented to break the album up. “Alienation” and the title-track, for instance, are just gentle underscorings; inflated outpourings; like lines being drawn through the mayhem. In the end, the gesture will feel rather like unnecessary padding. “State Of Decay” and the ballads “You Left Me Dead” and “Paranoia Extravaganza”, however, are welcome additions. They leave Prem with little to add and are mainly vehicles for Scherer’s incredibly emotive, gorgeously silken vocal.

There is much that is kept simple, and to good effect, but occasionally the band slot in a whole heap of intuitive electronica, (“Falling Skywards” and “State Of Decay”) creating another interesting angle for us to view the band from. “Renegade”, however, is a complete mess as it succumbs fully to the e-invasion, rupturing into part-ballad, part-drum n’ bass fireworks display.

Deadlock – it’s so easy to assume their moniker was borne out of decision to agree to disagree over a difference of vision. This does feel like a bit of a stop-start album; an album unsure of what it wants to be. A divided vision or end-product can so often lead to a divided fanbase – an album-by-album demand for more brute or more clarity of vision. It makes for an interesting listen but, of their back catalogue, many will find Bizarro World a tad too clean, lacking in bite, and that’s the camp you’ll find me waving from; no doubt with banner in hand and primeval chant at my lips for “more Prem, more Prem, more Prem”.

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