Album Review: The DEAD XIII – Dark Days
I was lucky enough a few years ago to review the debut album by the DEAD XIII which was called Catacombs. It was a corker of an album, to the point we started the review by saying, ‘Ok, so just go buy this’. My opinion hasn’t changed since I wrote that in 2015 and it’s always a blast when Spotify drops in a Frostbite, xiii or a Lay Siege to Hell in amongst the Murderdolls or my mate Wednesday 13. Again referring to that review, I’m sticking by my claim of , ‘debut album my arse, I haven’t heard anything of this quality as a debut for such a long time’. And so it’s to the second album and Dark Days with expectations set to eleven.
First let’s reflect on the band, formed in 2013 and from Manchester, England. Their look is the grave ghoul with the five piece dressed in rags with shock white faces and black war paint. If this band had been limp, then the look would have been cheesy and the nail in the ghoul’s coffin but with the music being so good, the look works. Yes they look like refugees from a Dicken’s novel or overage chimney sweeps, but it works. One of our reviewers has caught them a couple of times north of the border in Glasgow, where no nonsense is allowed (!), and the look works. It is the complete package.
Dark Days could have been the difficult second album but it’s not, it’s the perfect follow-up to Catacombs. It is twelve tracks in total and it is solid. For me the album takes a couple of tracks to find its hooks but when it does the Last Stand is a corker of a track, harder than most on the first album and a brute of a track. Did someone mention DJENT? Well this is DeadDJENT and it’s a stellar track that heaps guitar on guitar all underpinned with a bass drum track that will move objects around the room. It’s a big ask to take it up a notch, but here it is. Up a notch, and I’ll raise you a notch.
Did I mention that it drops into a track called Killers that has a riff and solo that could raise the dead? Did I mention that it is super infectious, maybe leprosy catchy in the grave-metal genre? It is a face melter, dropping down and coming back to take us through the riff again and again, all underscored by that wheezy, ethereal keyboard. Play Hell is another immense track, something that I would have been happy to hear on classics like The Dixie Dead or Women and Children Last, two albums that I adore. But they sound tinny in comparison to the mix on this album and that’s coming from the guy that is front and centre when Wednesday is in town. It is the lyric that drives those albums, but with the DEAD XIII there is a drive that comes from the entire band; those riffs, that wispy keyboard, the thudding bass and the double kick mentalness of the drums, all topped off with an excellent vocal performance that you would believe came straight from the morgue.
So again I’m saying just buy this. Those of you who can’t make a decision, just dip the digital needle on Redemption. Do you hear that? What more proof do you need that this is a band of quality, that deserves to be heard, and that they’ve delivered two albums that you should be listening to. And…..From Beyond, check that out, can you imagine that closing a set!?
Dark Days is beyond my expectations and my expectations were already ridiculously high. If this can raise the dead then get along and see this band, support them and buy the album. It’s a monster of a release.
Review: Craig Grant
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