Sound: What originally got me to purchase this quartet's debut album was a song that I'd heard previously of a compilation album. That song was the album's third track, A Green Desire'; an almost beautiful blend of dissonant guitar and vocals, and haunting melodies with a sprinkle of emotive lyrics to top it off. It soon made its way to the top of my most played list' on itunes. I bought Four Wall Blackmail in the hope that this glorious blend would be a common occurrence, without it becoming stale and overdone.
The album starts off with the track Burgundy and listening further into the album it becomes apparent that Dead Poetic apply a general formula to the album; and they do it very well: simple guitar chording with some subtly frantic drumming; a mixture of clean vocals and this incredibly dissonant harsh vocal that never goes unnoticed (both of which are supplied by the lead vocalist Brandon Rike). This can be especially found in tracks like the sombre title track (which features a crashing finale with Rike screaming his lungs out) August Winterman, the only song with a video to its name; and Stereochild. For those who will end up loving Rike's clean vocals there are a few tracks that concentrate more on that particular vocal talent such as Ollie Otson and Arlington Arms, which use clean vocals throughout their soaring chorus'.
As variety goes, there's not much on offer apart from the haunting acoustic track Bliss Tearing Eyes. Also, at just over 38 minutes, this album is desperately short. Maybe another acoustic track would have been a good addition, but it's something for the band to work on for their sophomore attempt. Also, Dead Poetic never use guitar solos or anything similar, relying completely on Rike for their melodic hooks. As it goes this lacking does not detract from the album at all; it suits the style very well but perhaps it could have enhanced the album a little; but it would be unwise to dismantle the album on such an issue.
For their overall sound, Dead Poetic have created something unique within the scream genre. Zach Miles' guitar uses very foggy distortion to create this brilliant atmospheric affect and Brandon Rike's voice is recognisable from a mile off. Josh Shellabarger's drum kit is also very different, with his snare being the most obvious oddity. This band could not be confused with many other groups. // 7
Lyrics: Essentially of the lyrics were written by Brandon Rike, and they craft a very sombre and sad mood. It matches the music perfectly and if you're a music fan who really focuses on lyrics, there's plenty to get stuck into here. The lyrics seem to centre on Rike's faith and the struggles he has been through, such as depression and what seems to be self harming. A Green Desire talks about how mistakes the singer has made have been forgotten and forgiven and that he'll be meeting God soon: I'll lose my life right here. But what for, I'm coming home. Four Wall Blackmail's sings Please God stay quiet; don't let them know you're watching me die. Other topics that seem to crop up include a pinch of politics in Arlington Arms: I won't fall on the knife that killed the American dream... Christian or not, many listeners will find it hard not get emotionally involved with this poetic' work.
The tone of Brandon's singing also match the lyrical content at the time; clearly evident in A Green Desire. When he sings the chorus of I will meet you... he sings in his soaring clean tones. In the same song, he screams Which hand shall I cut off? You get the picture. // 9
Overall Impression: Dead Poetic have delivered this unique sound within a not so unique genre. Listeners may draw some parallels to Underoath, but it's hard to place. It's unfortunate that some songs are simply to forgettable due to the repetitive nature of song structure and guitar technique, however, if you're into your emotive lyrics and sound, and like to get stuck into a good old lyrical masterpiece; then this album is for you.
I can see this being a bit of an either you love it or you hate it kind of deal, so it's hard to rate but I think this is a fair result and I look forward to hearing more from this band. // 8