Album Review: Deadlock - "Bizarro World"

Wie findest du die neues Musik von Deadlock? Ich finde sie toll!

German metallers Deadlock have ventured down a number of different paths over their career, with varying results. They’ve experimented with rap, techno, clean and scream vocals, and even a saxophone. With new album “Bizarro World,” we see the band settle into a sound and attitude that is a good fit for them.

Sebastian Reichl wears a lot of hats in Deadlock; he is listed as the band’s lead guitarist, rhythm guitarist and keyboard player. The role he stands out most in is lead guitar, and not simply because he is the only one that the band boasts. Rather, he plays guitar with fervor and calculating precision, alternating between sharp, bitten tones and smoother, more melodic constructions. As a soloist Reichl is remarkably adept, although he tends to bend back to the same bag of tricks. Still, he plays solos in the same manner as you have that one friend who always wants one more ride on the rollercoaster. As a listener, you can almost visibly hear him yelling to the band: “Wait, wait, just let me get one more solo in!” They can be short and melodic, as in “State of Decay” or intricate and harmonic like in “Brutal Romance,” but he always has one more. More often than not, rather than have a protracted showing, Reichl figuratively lays down flak with his virtuosity, spotting it in wherever he can. It’s fitting that he rips off a short shred in the first minute of album opener “Virus Jones.”

Deadlock will likely be compared with Lacuna Coil, and the two have toured together. It’s an easy parallel: “Look! They both have a scream-y guy and a sing-y chick! They’re both European and both play metal!” The comparison is somewhat apt, but oversimplifies the matter. What separates Deadlock from Lacuna Coil, or Epica or Amaranthe, or whoever else fits that fold is that Deadlock lacks the pop hook or at least the thoroughly melodic metal writing of those bands. “Bizarro World” has some very well crafted peaceful bridges, but when the music turns ugly, it tends to really devolve. That’s meant as a compliment.

If you’ll pardon the allegorical reach, if those similar bands are like William Faulkner, then Deadlock is more like Ernest Hemingway. The musical phrases are short and to the point, simple but effective, and bordering on abrupt. Couple this with Deadlock’s flair for unusual cadences and divergent lead and rhythm guitar lines and “Bizarro World” is a maelstrom of convergent ideas floating along on top of a consistent drum performance that holds the album like glue.

That leaves a tenuous balance on “Bizarro World” which is occasionally too jarring for its own good. There are few subtle transitions from harsh death metal to sanguine siren song. The transition to the final act of “Virus Jones” is such a precipice that the second half of the song sounds more like the first half of “State of Decay.” The latter song has its own pregnant techno pause where all other music stops, which makes the listener think the song has changed again.

With “Falling Skywards” the album strikes an even trade between the dramatic choruses and the vicious breakdowns, all tied together with more of Reichl’s stellar, in-the-pocket guitar work.

“Earthlings” sounds a shade video game-y at times, but overall is still one of the album’s most complete tracks, and features the most purely powerful performance of clean vocalist Sabine Scherer. It dovetails nicely into the comparatively placid “You Left Me Dead,” and illustrates the kind of dichotomy that runs throughout “Bizarro World.”

Seldom am I a fan of throw-away instrumental songs on a metal album (I am always reminded of Tenacious D’s “Inward Singing” where Jack Black shouts “Rock singers are only rocking you half the time!”) but “Alienation” works so well as a setup to the electronically enhanced “Renegade” that the latter song might end up the album’s best.

Deadlock’s “Bizarro World” is the band’s best effort yet, and while it at times gets contrived or wanders off the path, it is worth a look for just about all metal fans. This one may fly under the general radar for 2011, but listeners who scope this out and tell their friends would be doing the metal community a service. “Bizarro World” ist ausgezeichnet.

Around the Web

What's New?

In which we try to make sense of "Return to Nukem High: Volume 1"...

Podcast

This week we discuss The Cure in movie form...

Podcast

Latest Reviews

Search

Around The Web