Rockford Illinois five piece Dead/Wake maybe following up their debut EP “Insurrectionist” with a self titled debut full length just 12 months on but this one features still features a trio of guest appearances. “Insurrectionist” features the likes of Emmure frontman Frankie Palmeri, the unmistakable Tyler Shelton of Traitors and David Simonich now of Signs Of The Swarm. So who have vocalist Dillon James Hare, drummer Payton Kuhn, bassist Anthony Schlickman and guitarists duo Michael Campa and Morgan Earp tapped up for the album? And why are they still calling themselves a primarily a Hardcore band with touches of Metalcore and Deathcore?
Opening cut “Tabula Rasa” is 84 seconds of sickening, menacing atmosphere with a single verse and a bludgeoning bridge with a Gloom styling overlaying a Deathcore heart. Driving headlong into oncoming traffic, “The Shepherd” sees Hare go head to head with Vulvodynia frontman Duncan Bentley, the two having opposing pitches in their voices and intertwining them to lethal effect. A mid track speech sample cuts a break from the jackhammer footwork and anvil heavy riffs before bringing it back to a downtempo crush breakdown that will scare the sh*t out of anyone not expecting it with its horror film vocal evils. “Blackball” could be an Alpha Wolf track in places, it’s hateful lyrics broken up by blast beat sections, more jackhammer footwork and an early career Attila hopped up vocal bridge from Hare. He doesn’t stop there, showcasing some killer range with some brutality slamming Deathcore vocals that shatter glass at 30 paces.
The second guest appearance is from Adrian Holmes of Dealer fame on “F(r)iends” which could be a Dealer track in its own right if it wasn’t for the sheer electricity of Payton Kuhn’s kit performance. He generates Earthquake tremors with each foot movement and it elevates what is essentially a Gloom styled track to a new level. After the swirling dark moods of the previous track, “DNR” cuts in with rap screams that are more screams than anything else, underpinned by some relentless groove riffs and brutal breakdowns. A battering ram of a mid section threatens to put a drill through your skill and when the track ends you can’t help but feel Dead/Awake could have squeezed another verse out of it, such is the brutal quality.
“The Gallows II” sees Dead/Awake return for a lyrical sequel to “The Gallows” from “Insurrectionist” in slick and savage style. A circle pit starter of a track it keeps up the aggression with some seriously abrasive riffs and embittered vocals that might just have you at the point of a brain hemorrhage, but happy about it. Introducing some DJent groove and off kilter Tech-Metal swerve “Go Back To Cincinnati” will make you want to throw your friends around in the pit and a science fiction solo of sorts may have you thinking you’ve been zapped into some Rings Of Saturn. It might not be as heavy duty or as thick vocally but it still packs a killer punch. “Vagabond” sees Jason Robert C of The Last Ten Seconds Of Life pick up the microphone for the third and final guest appearance. Some cathartic lyrics and groove laiden riffs make for a fine listen with plenty of little nuances that pop out of the mix over multiple listens. The “Bliegh!” moment and Slam growls are wonderful touches that don’t overpower the powerhouse of the track. If there was an album that you would never expect any clean vocals on, it’s this one but in “1/24/18”, some cleaner passages are added to the mix of a track that floats between Screamo and Metalcore with an aching beauty. The unforgettable moment of a broken relationship cuts the track with a meloncholic sadness but Dead/Awake don’t leave behind the core of their sound, instead keeping the brutal kit work and grooves which makes for a interesting contradiction in terms. Brutal, adrenaline fuelled fun [8/10]
The Shepard (ft. Ducan Bentley of Vulvodynia)
F(r)iends (ft. Adrian Holmes of Dealer)
The Gallows II
Go Back To Cincinnati
Vagabond (ft. Jason Robert C of The Last Ten Seconds Of Life)
“Self Titled” by Dead/Awake is out now via We Are Triumphant