Album: Dismal – EP
On a day to day basis, most people would probably say their lives are okay. There are a few great days, a decent amount of good days and an overwhelming majority of just…days that are neither positive or negative; they just are.
Then there are the bad days—and some days are even awful—but even those days are transient. It takes a whole lot of bad things happening in a coordinated syncytium for anything (a day, week, person or place) to really be considered dismal. There is a certain permeating sense of dread and despair that accompanies that word; an emotional accent that transcends other more ethereal descriptors—a true atmosphere of intense, dreary spiritual darkness. And the debut EP from Floridian nu-metal infused downtempo-tinted act Deadland, aptly titled Dismal, captures that to a finely sharpened point. Laden with lurid, suffocating anguish and more heaviness than can even be described, Dismal is just that—a dismally brutalizing display of depressive aggression that demands to be experienced.
From the scathing introduction to “Sinner,” the listener is steeped in sinister, skin-shredding anger and aggression. Percussionist Dominic Apostolico is awe-inspiring in his ability to create punchy and powerful patterns that punch right into the listener’s head, peppered with flashy and bright fills that cut through the grisly, low and gritty guitar work from Tyler Roebuck. “Sinner” sees Apostolico wielding wonton speed and technicality between groovy, catchy breakdowns, bringing into question the aforementioned “downtempo” elements—elements harped upon heavily during the song’s conclusion, and throughout raunchier and more ruthless tracks, “Dismal” and “Carcass.” On these songs, Apostolico and bassist Zach Murphy work together to create a muddy, murderous low end that shreds the listeners spine under its insane weight. Meanwhile, during the opening portions of “Sinner” and “Malnourished,” Murphy works more closely with Roebuck to add density to his dynamic, riff-driven grooves. Murphy—toggling his focus between fretwork and percussive elements of Deadland’s sound—may not be readily heard throughout much of Dismal, but his role is crucial all the same. Adding thickness to the Apostolico’s awesome percussion yet bolstering the grooves and eerie leads from Roebuck (especially during the climactic insanity of “Malnourished”), Murphy works excellently within the confines set by Deadland’s other instrumentalists to make the efforts of three individuals hit like the efforts of twelve–this culminates in the closing track, “S.O.B.,” which, while not the strongest track on the entire release, climaxes with a soul-smothering, spine-withering series of dissonant and devastating breakdowns which see Murphy and Roebuck at their most ruthless.
Where Deadland prove they’re more than just another excellently produced but harmless example of 2017’s nu-metalcore craze is with the efforts of frontman Jeremy Torres. From the first syllables shouted on “Sinner,” Torres’ harsh mid-range yell sounds eerily similar to Yüth Forever’s Devin MacGillivray (which is among the highest praise I can give), with bitter, bold low growls that define “Dismal” and “Carcass.” Torres is diverse and energetic, truly a prodigally talented vocalist who caters excellently to the musical talents and strengths of Deadland without missing a beat. No track highlights this better than “Dismal,” which takes the best parts of all of the members of Deadland and pile it into four minutes of pure fury, with Torres stealing the show. Filled with braying mid range yells and ruthless lows that feel as if they could level entire city blocks, “Dismal,” as well as just about every second of the band’s debut EP, is a testament to Torres’ vocal prowess.
Dismal sounds a lot like if Freudian Slip and Traitors’ debut EP had an awkward and stunted child—with songs like “Dismal” and “Carcass” that have instrumental hints of early Traitors and Torres’ vocals adding a thick coat of MacGillivrian misery to each track, especially the opening two numbers. Deadland are catchy and crushing—and at just seconds under twenty minutes, Dismal is a five track display of unbarred and uncensored fury that takes stark influences from the Floridian scene, mashes them up with Midwestern metalcore and a bit of the truly and completely original to make an engaging and prodigally powerful debut effort—one that could turn any venue and the inhabitants therein into a figurative Deadland.
For Fans Of: Yüth Forever, VCTMS, Traitors, Agerasia
By: Connor Welsh