The Dead XIII – Dark Days
Release Date: 09th February 2018
Label: Self released
Following up on their successful 2015 debut album Catacombs, Manchester quintet The Dead XIII are back with a second offering entitled Dark Days. Visually the band clearly take some cues from Horror-punk, in fact they’re touring with Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein of Misfits fame in the coming months. In terms of the overall sound the band are more closely aligned to Metal but with a number of disparate flourishes such as strings and piano interludes thrown in for good measure. All of this is undershot with a liberal use of synth which is a recurrent feature across the 12 tracks of Dark Days, bringing to mind synthwave bands such as Perturbator and Dance With the Dead.
The opening track is Bloodlines which starts with around twenty seconds of synth, setting the tone for the relatively dark content. Things then start to kick off with a scream and the band launch into a strong first track. The synth and guitar interact well here, as elsewhere on the album, not crowding each other out and the drums aren’t overly complicated but keep things powering along nicely. The chorus is catchy with a good hook and the roar of ‘The Bloodlines’ a simple but effective refrain. There is an accompanying lyric video which has the haematological imagery you might expect, accompanied by some dark woodland shots and what looks like distorted close ups of human skin.
Second track Dark Days is another powerful song that also begins with a synth and has a really muscular riff set against more muted middle sections, where the voice is more spoken than shouted and at one point there is a cut out to just drums and slight guitar buzz. A technique that is also used to good effect on the The Fallen except with the cut out being just to synth. This track also introduces strings into the mix as an intro and outro motif which bookends the heavier sections well. Vigil, a short instrumental piece is placed halfway through the album which is an interesting choice as it’s sparse piano part and droney synth might seem more apt as a concluding number. However it breaks things up well and the album subsequently returns to heavier territory.
Ninth track Insomnia has a slight inflection of the Sisters of Mercy, admittedly with a heavier approach. It is another track with a slower instrumental interlude that ramps up into a riff heavy crescendo before fading out on feedback. This is followed by Redemption which combines a darkwave synth sensibility with a riff that has just a hint of Sweet Dreams to its structure. This song felt like it could soundtrack a chase scene in an 80’s sci-fi flick, which is no bad thing. Finally there is another short instrumental, Curtain Call, before From Beyond rounds the album off.
Dark Days is a decent album from a band who succeed in melding the electronic aspect of their sound with the heavier overtones effectively. It is full of catchy riffs and synth lines that hold the listeners ear. Some of the tracks don’t quite jump out at you, but the overall product sounds slick and well put together with enough variety to keep things interesting and enough attitude to show they mean business.
Recommended Track: Redemption