Album: Reinforcements – EP
Thirty, maybe forty feet away, a landmine erupts—a mortar shell lands—explosions dominate your audible spectrum as the only thing that seems louder is the deep, resonant thumping of your own heart. Out of nowhere, a deafening, rattling crack pierces through the maelstrom—you duck, as what you can only hope are friendly forces roar overhead. Streams of suppressing fire rain down upon your adversaries—for now, the day is saved. Here’s the twist—the battlefield you find yourself hunkered down on—the beach you so valiantly storm—is the current state-of-affairs concerning heavy, aggressive metalcore. The reinforcements you so desperately needed? Well, they come in the form of Reinforcements, the sophomore release by Tulsa-based progressive metalcore act DeadAlive. Reinforcements supplies the listener with crate upon crate of hate-laced ammunition and boundless, technically-tinted aggression that creates an immersive experience that rises leaps and bounds above the band’s previous efforts.
Reinforcements lingers at first—just as that friend-or-foe uncertainty lingers about the listener entrenched on metalcore’s precarious battlefield. Will DeadAlive truly assist the war on uninventive, chug-laden, and heavy-soft hardcore? Or will they simply fall short like so many bands before them? However, by the time “Blueskidoo, We Can Too” reaches full tilt, the answer is clear: DeadAlive are here to change things up and dominate the tedious and stagnant efforts of their peers. Intense, speaker-thumping bass lines and fierce, punishing kick drum roar like artillery in the listener’s ear, while riffs as sharp as razor-wire tangle the listener’s limbs, slicing skin and drawing blood. “As Fuck” is another instrumentally intense and innovative track, relying heavily on the juxtaposition of furious, skull-crushing heaviness and touches of surreal atmosphere and splashy, cymbal-heavy percussion to entrance the listener—a sound which disillusions them of the war on their doorstep while simultaneously thrusting them into the thick of the fire and brimstone fury that is Reinforcements.
DeadAlive’s newfound respect for diverse and inventive instrumentation and songwriting alone is enough to draw sharp attention to the band’s progression since their debut EP—but that doesn’t mean it’s the only evidence of rampant maturation. The vocals which dominate Reinforcements are fresh, energetic and—in a word—bitter. Emotion and anger pours forth from every syllable with a coating of hatred that’s as thick as honey but as toxic as venom. “Maple Syrup Blood Transfusion” showcases the enormous spectrum of screams from Zak Teylah as well as any track on the album—while “As Fuck” and “Nacho Problem” alike serve to paint perfect mosaics of emotion and visceral, limitless feeling. Whether it’s screeching, insane screams or mud-covered, gritty growls, Teylah uses every pitch and tone at his disposal to assault the listener and defend metalcore against boring, lack-luster and monotonous shouts.
Put the two together and what do you get? You get Reinforcements in ranks as deep as any military superpower’s army. DeadAlive showcase superior, innovative songwriting and remarkable, refreshing vocal dynamics that bring a new, albeit intangible, element to a genre which so desperately needs it. True enough—some moments throughout the EP sound ever-so-slightly copy-and-pasted, and certain lingering elements from the band’s previous EP do stick around and poison the well with the presence, but ultimately, DeadAlive’s Reinforcements is a release which earns the band a purple heart and a medal of honor on progression alone. Fans of their debut release will have to do a double-take at each track to ensure that, yes, they are indeed listening to the same band that stormed onto the scene with Reconstruction.
Reinforcements isn’t just a renovation (or a reconstruction) of DeadAlive’s sound. It’s a completely different animal altogether. This time, rather than focusing on balancing the emotion needed to rebuild with the passion needed to motivate, DeadAlive let loose nothing but fury and raw, relentless energy in an effort to defend metalcore against the hordes of the uninspired and boring. The result? A release that not only wins the battle, but may damn well win the war.
For Fans Of: Barrier, Sworn In, Kingmaker, Villains, Victims