Thursday, July 20, 2017

Album Review: Ded - Mis-An-thrope

Anger is the fuel of youth, or so people are led to believe. Young bands come roaring out of the blocks full of rage, exploding through the speakers, before eventually settling down as they get older. It's that slow down that annoys a lot of fans, people who for whatever reason are trying to cling to their youths, never wanting to forget what it was like to be filled with righteous fury. Myself, I was never that way, and as time has moved on, I have understood even less the appeal of listening to bands that scream their heads off the whole time. That would be why I haven't spent much of any time in my life listening to music self-described as "hard core". Ded claims their music is different, that it leads to the same feeling as a good horror movie, which sounds interesting enough to me to give them a shot.

"Architect" opens the album with a grind-style nu-metal riff and an expletive in the very first line. Edgy, huh? The song tries to get a stomping groove going, which it sort of does, and then there's a clean sung chorus that actually does a lot to anchor the song's aggression in something easier to swallow. It's a style that Korn pioneered, and Slipknot eventually took on, but it's still highly effective. It's not a bad track at all.

Of course, there is an issue I have with the delivery. The band says the lyrics are deep, and deal with issues up to and including existentialism. That's an intriguing claim, but it's also counteracted by the screamed delivery in many of the verses. Those lyrics are rendered indecipherable by the harsh tone, which seems to defeat the purpose of writing songs that are supposed to be about something. The message might as well not exist if the listener can't understand what the message is supposed to be.

As the record unfolds, we get a heavier dose of that Korn sound. "Anti-Everything" uses more clean vocals, and with the spoken-type verses, it feels exactly like we're in 1998 again. In fact, I went out of my norm last year by actually listening to Korn's most recent album. "Mis-An-thrope" reminds me so much of that album it's scary, right down to the band's insistence on not following it's own internal grammar with the title's capitilizations.

This approach does two things, one good and one bad. The good news is that Ded is following a sound that works. There's plenty of precedent that what they are doing will find an audience, and many of the hooks here are darn solid, and well worth listening to. The bad news is that the verses to almost every one of these songs are unnecessary, and are just filling time before the choruses arrive. Let's take "Remember The Enemy" for example. The chorus to the song is fantastic, but the verses skiffle along without a riff or a melody, just rambling words and a few blips of sound. All the time between choruses is wasted, and offers nothing to build the track.

Worst of all, though, is the disappointment in the lyrics. From what was promised, I expected far, far more than "fuck me and fuck you too" as the main hook in "FMFY". That is so childish and desperate that I wanted to hit the skip button the instant I heard it. If you are going to claim any sort of depth to your music, you have to deliver it. Saying "fuck you because of your politics" is not deeper than saying "fuck you because you're ugly". They are both stupid, pathetic, and quite frankly insulting to my intelligence.

So what do I make of "Mis-An-thrope"? I'm actually a bit torn, given the tone of what I just wrote. This isn't a style I particularly enjoy, but I do hear enough in the choruses of these songs to think Ded has some real potential. It's just that they haven't figured out how to build entire songs around those good ideas. If they can figure that out, they might have a chance. As for now, I'll go listen to Korn's album again. Their experience made for a far better record than this.

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