Produced by John Feldmann (Atreyu, Papa Roach, We Came As Romans), “Mis•an•thrope” is the debut full length album from Nu-Metal revivalists Ded. The Tempe, Arizona quartet have plenty of history in the music industry, being formed by former members of The Cover Up, Man Made Machine and GreeleyEstates, all of which had major label interest at some point in their careers. An album that was three years in the making, what does “Mis•an•thrope” sound like?
The driving riffage and stomp-y drum and bass tones of opening track “Architect” is an almost instant reminder of the type of material Cane Hill have been throwing out for a while now. Frontman Joe Cotela demonstrates his full vocal range and variety with a combination of screaming, singing, heavy breathing and dark whispered tones. “Anti-Everything” has a music video produced by none other than Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst and is a surprise hip-hop verse followed by typical nu-metal chorus. It’s catchy hook and chorus are representative of the best that nu-metal has to offer while still having the heavier edges of the opening track. “Dead to Me” is packed with KoRn-esq guitar nuances from David Ludlow during the schizophrenic verses, while lifting it up into a sung chorus. Musically there is plenty going on to interest on repeated listens with numerous tempo changes and buried electronics that are masked by the vocals at points. “FMFY” benefits from John Feldmann’s production which is particularly evident in the drum sound. While Matt Reinhard nails his parts, the sound is clean and crisp and doesn’t get muddied by the guitar tones which is something is apparent on a lot of nu-metal releases.
“Remember the Enemy” utilises programmed drums and synths to build the sound before layering in the guitars and melodic clean vocals. The unclean vocals are buried in the background and from the off, it’s clear that this song was earmarked for commercial radio play. It’s got enough of the bands core sound to keep the flow of the album going but also stands apart from the rest. “Disassociate” returns to sound of the earlier music, throwing into the mix a very Jonathan Davis nuanced vocal approach from KoRn’s earlier releases while frontman Joe Cotela maintains the Elijah Witt esq vocal during the heavier parts. The introspective lyrics are nothing new but it’s delivered with enough style, grace and panache to modernise the sound and not leave the band with a throwback sound. “Rope” sadly isn’t a cover of 40 Below Summer‘s stand out of the same name. Following the sex-scene sample, the music kicks in with a distinct Slipknot vibe with rap screams reminiscent of the bands 1999 debut and powerful heavy guitar work. The driving bass from Kyle Koelsch is apparent before the band drop to their clean chorus lines that are part of the formula that makes up the bands sound but never become formulaic. Police tape samples introduces “Hate Me” before rapping and clean vocals open over a dialled back nu-metal standard guitar part. It’s another song that has clearly been earmarked as a single because it stands out like a sore thumb in the album flow. That’s not to say it’s a bad song and it will certainly have it’s fair share of sing-a-longs at the bands shows, but it has been done before and doesn’t really bring anything new to the table.
“I Exist” is the fastest track on the album, leaping out from behind the commercialism’s of “Hate Me” and begging us to cut the band off at the knees. It’s a track which mixes it up with tempo changes and blending the tonal attack to deliver it’s statement message lyric. “Inside” should be perhaps re-titled “Ded Inside” and is pretty much a summary of everything on the album in a single song. It’s a stand out in that it has the signature big chorus, great flow and driving riffage that the band bring to the table but also that extra verve and spark. That extra is achieved by contrasting the subtleties against the heavier side to give extra bounce and because the song has a really good lead guitar part that hooks in deep. “Beautiful” closes out the album with an of kilter ballad of sorts that would be at home on a Staind release, its so Aaron Lewis.
What Ded and John Feldmann have done is take the Nu-Metal sound from and modernise it with slick production. Avoiding the muddy guitar and bass tones that hampered so many bands of that era and instead playing to the their strengths, this album is one that is soaked in nostalgia but has enough of its own life to stand on its own two feet. Ded wear their influences on their collective sleeves throughout the album and there are plenty of occasions where you could name drop another band while listening. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and the passion of the delivery, the musicanship and the song writing skills all shine through. There is a bounce, verve and energy about the whole release, while the introspective, angst filled lyrics give the whole thing drive. There may well be bigger things to come from this band. [7/10]