How miraculous is the heart? Something as small an innocuous as a fist, yet, without it, you would be stone cold somewhere–or even more accurately, would never have existed at all. The heart is more than just an organ, however: more than a collection of cells contracting in unison to move blood throughout the body. It is synonymous with life, love and a purpose for being. It is only fitting, however, to say that DeadAlive, Tulsa-based terrorizers have safely encompassed the concept of the heart with their latest EP, Reconstruction. Filled with pounding drums, bipolar and diverse vocals alongside a dynamic combination of riff-driven metal and groove-laden guitars, Reconstruction is the culmination of all things keeping deathcore alive: Ladies and gentleman, Reconstruction encompasses all of the elements it takes to be heart of this genre.
The first thing they teach you in physiology is that, fundamentally, the heart is a pump. A collection of distinct muscle cells with highly specialized nerve co-ordination and calcium release which enables it to function in continuous rhythm without tetanic summation. And just like the heart, Reconstruction beats constantly and fiercely–instead, rather than beating inside your ribcage, it beats at your eardrums. Pounding, incessant percussion lays the basis for the release, while shredding, razor-sharp riffs race alongside. Tracks like the opener begin with a furious riff which slides smoothly into a buttery, grimy groove. This instrumental trend is further established in the tracks which follow: “Mullet King” and “Thunder,” two tracks which oscillate viciously between brilliant fretwork and heavy, half-chugged, half-riffed grooves with touches of harmonic flare tacked on for good measure. In this way, while the drums and bass pound out a steady beat beneath it all, this sort of pattern forms a heartbeat which drives the release along, constantly pushing and pulling in order to perform at it’s best.
DeadAlive, however, are more than just a simple pump, propelling Reconstruction down a path of instrumental supremacy. Hearts, after all, have a greater meaning in today’s society than a simple organ (isn’t that the point of the concept in this review?). Hearts, as Jude Law put it best, are like a fist, wrapped in blood. And like a fist, this album hits punctually, and without remorse–largely due to the vocal attack lying within. While the instrumentation throbs along, the vocals are what reach out and truly kick in the listener’s chest. “Mullet King,” along with “Yucky Charms” do this exceptionally well: favoring an all-out onslaught of sheer aggression and bitterness. But–and this is the big but–there is more to the vocals than incessant anger and hate. There is also a softer side which shows its face on the album–in “Gnarbone,” for example, where the screams fade way to a soft, almost-crooned vocal style which is nothing but a surprise to the listener. While they’re hard to predict, they’re even harder to dislike, as they do a brilliant job of thwarting potential vocal monotony. These vocals are the wrench in the works of the heartbeat–the figurative palpitation or errant dysrhythmia.
At the core of it all, hearts are life: without them, we–or any other carbon-based life form–have nothing. And that’s what this album is. It’s one part pump, one part emotion, and several parts oxygenation. It breathes and inspires fresh air into a stagnant genre, combining bitterness and tenderness. Vicious riffs and hard-hitting grooves. Fill-packed drumming and harmonic-infused breakdowns. Reconstruction is DeadAlive being both and remorseless angry and forgiving at the same time. The album is diverse, with just enough of a hint of careless bipolarity to give it flavor. In this way, it’s unlike a majority of the efforts of its peers. It marches to the beat of its own drum, or its own pacemaker, without regard for standards or conventions.
Autonomous, life-bringing and unforgiving, Reconstruction is all that djenty, groovy deathcore should be. It is unendingly heavy, almost lopsided at parts, but provides just enough crooning, melodic support to keep it from getting bottom-heavy. DeadAlive show that, while they are a young act, they have all the necessary bits and pieces to produce true, shining brilliance in a genre which is dull and faded.
For Fans Of: PledgeThis!, Northlane, Struc/tures, Entities
By: Connor Welsh