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The Dead Word

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Reviews

Average Rating
★★★★½
(11 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • For me Deadsoul Tribe’s strength is that they remind me of Tool, one of my favorite bands. They have a dark morose sound and lyrics, a similar disjointed, syncopated style, a heavy stop and go drum and guitar beat with unusual melodies, somewhat de-emphasizing the vocals for the sake of the strong instrumentation. That’s not to say that, as a singer, Graves doesn’t have his moments. He has a pleasant mid to high pitched voice and a decent style that together, with echo chambers and dual tracks, happens to compliment the music.

    With each progressive release by both bands, it’s gotten to where Deadsoul Tribe sounds more like Tool to me than Tool. Well at least somebody sounds like Tool.

    If you have never heard of these guys or know little of them, I suspect that is about to change! For fans of Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Filter and Type O negative.

    Posted on November 14, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Dead Soul Tribe continues to put out albums on a yearly basis ever since their A Murder of Crows masterwork came out in 2003. With The January Tree, in my opinion, Devon Graves not only released his best work, but he also proved himself as an exceptional poet with excellent ability in songwriting and production. Together with drummer Adel Moustafa, they wrote and recorded one of the finest releases of the year. So after a year, The Dead Word comes out, marking the release of the band’s fourth album. And needless to say, it carries Graves’ unique sound all over it.

    As Devon Graves himself stated, The Dead Word is the fastest album recording he has achieved in his career. Written, arranged, recorded and mixed in only one month, perhaps in order to meet contractual obligations that say one album every year, this is perhaps Graves’ most solo work to date, excluding the eponymous debut album. While still solid and in no way disappointing, from a musical standpoint, The Dead Word seems a bit rushed, often ending up like a sequel to the band’s previous album. The opening song, kicking in after the atmospheric intro “Prelude: Time and Pressure”, is almost identical in structure and dynamics to the first track of The January Tree, “Spiders and Flies”. Its slow yet effective start takes on a good drum and bass rhythmic support where Devon sings in his expressive whispered tone, before the song explodes into a catchy vocal melody eerily similar to the aforementioned track. Secret Tool riffs and remarkable drum fills establish the classic Dead Soul Tribe sound as Devon shifts to a more aggressive vocal style (now that’s something new compared to his other albums) and finishes the tune with a quite angry tone.

    Strangely, most things you hear on The Dead Word sound like you’ve heard them before, and they seem to be reproduced with little touches of variation. Furthermore, with the exception of a few tunes, most of these songs are bass and drum-rich with restrained inclusion of Devon’s flute and piano playing, as well as rhythm and lead guitar. I am inclined to believe Devon actually plays all instruments on this album, except drums, and his main focus is obviously the bass. Adel Moustafa often plays his amazing drums in impressive harmony with Devon’s bass lines, adding in some intricate fills along the way. Apart from the complex piece “Waiting in Line”, which is the first song they recorded together, the album is minimalistic and less ornate . This song has a great groove, shimmering cymbal taps, flute sounds, and a relatively more challenging chorus. Though not a revolutionary cut, overall it’s on par with the best stuff on The January Tree. According to the information on their website, this track took a while to complete in the studio. I’ve been wondering if that’s why they decided to go for a simpler and less busy style on most of the other songs. The multiple vocal harmonies-laden and epic tracks like “A Fistful of Bended Nails” and “The Long Ride Home”, the only piece co-written by drummer Adel Moustafa, feature a great deal of rhythm guitars that increase the tension and intensity of the songs, utilising ethnic percussion, subtle flute, piano and bass sections, while “To My Beloved…” and “Don’t You Ever Hurt?” are heavily bass-filled cuts delivered through the dichotomy of heavy and soft instrumental passages. That said, “Don’t You Ever Hurt?” has a great mystical vibe to it with an upbeat melody and overdubbed vocal lines by Devon. The interesting message of the song is delivered through spoken lyrics somewhere in the middle. It’s just both of these songs don’t possess the melodic and harmonic quality we’ve come to expect from Dead Soul Tribe. They are totally cool in their own way, but to think how much better they would sound with piano, flute, bells, amd staggering harmonies is a bit confusing.

    The centrepieces of the album, in my opinion, are the acoustic ballad “Some Sane Advice” and its counterpart and the relatively heavier “Let the Hammer Fall”. The former song is a continuous shift between lush acoustics and multi-textured choruses, with sirens wailing non-stop towards the end, conjuring up visions of half a dozen police cars arriving at a murder scene by the shores of an isolated lake. Slowly, the song fades out, but the sirens do not. They are still audible on the following piece where keys and guitars are blended and a heavier musical experiment is executed. As with every DST release, the album’s most experimental song is the electronic “My Dying Wish”, a song punctuated by weird tuba sounds, more ethnic percussion, and highly processed electronic soundscapes. The Dead Word is going to hit any new fan. It is amazing on its own merits, but for freaks like myself, it may fall a bit short of its mark. Unless you have high expectations though, you will be blown away when you hear Devon Graves’ new output.

    Posted on November 14, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • The Good
    Tribal drumbeats and tortured vocals dominate on the CDs first single “A Flight on Angels Wings”. There are some wicked bass and guitar riffs as the track progresses. A thick bass line lays the blueprint for “To My Beloved…”. Graves shares his pain through his deep and passionate vocal delivery. Devon is at his best on the guitar heavy chorus. Dead Soul Tribe breaks through their melancholy tones with the addictive up-tempo track “Don’t You Ever Hurt?”. “Let the Hammer Fall” is a pure metal composition complete with meaty riffs and biting guitar solos. On “Waiting in Line” the focus shifts to Graves multi-tracked vocal harmonies. They come off haunting, yet melodic. Dead Soul Tribe employs lots of electronic progressive elements on “My Dying Wish”.

    The Bad
    Nothing notable

    The Verdict
    It’s apparent that Devon Graves is a dark and tortured soul on The Dead Word. One man’s pain becomes your pleasure, as it translates into some great progressive metal. What exactly tortures our vocalist/lyricist is up to you to decipher.

    Posted on November 14, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Devon Graves never dissapoints me whether it was with Psychotic Waltz, solo or with Deadsoul Tribe (not: Dead Soul Tribe). I can play his music over and over again without getting bored. I have a playlist of all his work on my iPod, which is great. When you shuffle the music Devon has created over the last 15 odd years you can really appreciate the greatness of all the individual songs. I have many favorites.

    After listening to The Dead Word for numerous times I must conclude that this is once again a masterpiece. Devon’s vocals are clearer, stronger and more versatile than ever (great mixing!). The songs are strong and exciting.

    I am looking forward to seeing this band play live in Amstelveen, The Netherlands on January 6th 2006.

    I am (once again) impressed.

    Posted on November 14, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Devon’s last two albums (Crows and Tree) are two of my favorite albums of the 21st century, so far. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would buy this new album, then, and I’m sure I’ll buy the next one (assuming we are lucky enough that he continues to make more albums.)

    However, all I can think of is that this particular album was just rushed – the material wasn’t quite ready and the mix sounds a bit off to me in ways I’m not sure I can adequately describe, other that it isn’t as polished as the last two albums. Some of this material definitely sounds like a re-hash of the 2002 release, so sort of a step backwards in a sense. Having said that, “Some Sane Advice” moves into my own personal “Best of” DST list, while “The Long Ride Home” and “Let the Hammer Fall Down” make honorable mention. Dead Soul Tribe fans shouldn’t take all this to mean I don’t think this album isn’t worth getting. I just suggest one has less expectations going in. Perhaps it was only natural there would be a let down, after doing four albums in four years – having one good one, two great ones, and now a pretty good one ain’t bad!

    However, for those new to Dead Soul Tribe, definitely pick up January Tree, first, A Murder of Crows second, and then get this one. (Or, heck, just buy them all now and listen to them in the correct order. :)

    Posted on November 14, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now