Artist: Dealey Plaza
What happens when we die? A glorious return to dust? The heaven above? Hell below? A lot of people have dedicated their entire lives to finding out—perhaps even at the expense of dying if that’s what it means to get an answer. But it doesn’t really matter—whatever happens, happens, and if Floridian metalcore outfit Dealey Plaza are any example, it isn’t permanent. At the onset of 2018, the band were perceived to be all but dead; founding members parting ways, certain elements thereof shrouded in drama…in short, things looked dire. Fast forward, and Dealey Plaza are back with A.D., a record that takes the struggles of recent years, capitalizes on their recent shift towards a more metallic sound and gives the listener something along the lines of a truly…thrashy metalcore record. Laden with blistering riffs and ruthless aggression, A.D. is a raunchy experience nothing quite like anything the band—or their contemporaries—have produced in recent history.
While it is far beyond the scope of this article to really dive into the reasons behind Dealey Plaza’s initial disbanding, suffice it to say that with A.D., they return with a nearly totally new lineup. A.D. is Dealey Plaza like we’ve never heard Dealey Plaza before because it truly is a version of Dealey Plaza that we haven’t heard before. Laden with outright thrash metallic influence and laced with lacerating riffs, the band’s 2020 release is as much a comeback and return to form as it is a rebirth. Guitarists Ray Charles and Patrick Finster shine, bringing the most tangible changes to Dealey Plaza’s dynamic to life. Songs like “Dark Lust” and “No Masters” display this prominently, with Charles and Finster lashing away with leads that boast a boldly metallic hue. Other cuts—“Adversary” and “Caedas”—go right for the throat with pummeling heaviness that allows Charles and Finster to work intimately with percussionist Brandon Thrift and bassist Ryan Tregea. Thrift’s drumming doesn’t show off quite as much as Dealey Plaza’s previous records have, but he matches the more rugged, raw and aggressive tone set by Charles and Finster with expertise. Songs like “Adversary” hit hard and without remorse, just as Thrift’s work on “Dark Lust” keeps the song moving with a catchy-yet-frantic fervor. The instrumental aspect of A.D. is a striking testament to a unique blend between traditional metallic stylings and more contemporary, heavy-handed hardcore and metalcore influence that gives the heavy music underground something new and unexpected—especially in the context of Dealey Plaza’s discography.
Where Dealey Plaza’s instrumental lineup has seen some reworking, frontman Bryan Long remains at the helm for the band’s vocal duties. Does this mean we’re in for the same things as heard on Deliver Us or Culture and Circumstances? Considering that I’m asking, you probably guessed that the answer is no. Long’s vocals—much like the instrumentation that serves as their soundscape—has taken a turn for the more rough, raw and unpolished. This can be heard throughout A.D., perhaps most notably on “Dark Lust” and the record’s title track, where Long’s vocals opt intensity and intelligibility over empty and pointless wankery. This does mean that A.D. can hit some small sections of vocal monotony, but it also means that A.D. is home to a more comprehensive and immersive sound—rather than a more “deathcore” approach to vocals, Long adopts the mood set by Charles, Finster et al, and does so in a convincing and crushing way. Proof of this exists throughout the entirety of the EP’s run time, but once more, we turn to “Dark Lust” as standalone evidence that Long is far from a one-trick pony. Where some of the variety from Deliver Us or Provoke the Human might be absent, Long’s newfound ability to (for lack of a better term) vocally beat ass remains a welcome addition to the band’s dynamic.
Working at both New Transcendence and Chugcore, I have been duly tasked with the job of creating a reasonable “for fans of…” section for A.D. As it turns out, it’s been pretty hard to do. There are many bands off the top of my head that blend a distinctly thrashy vein of metal with contemporary metalcore—let alone there are even fewer bands that do it well. Sounding something like the bastard child of Kublai Khan, Born a New, I AM and Broadmoor, Dealey Plaza’s 2020 iteration is a welcome addition to the metalcore underground—as they happen to be one of the first new bands in quite some time that truly add something new to the table.
For Fans Of: I AM, Kublai Khan, Broadmoor, Born a New
By: Connor Welsh