Sound: It says a lot about metal today that when listening to Dead Storm', you expect chilled passages to follow every couple of sludgy riffs. Sure, every once in a while there's a quiet section and a minute or two of buildup but when the fat is trimmed The Psyke Project are a big dirty sludge band. However, the Danes make a very conscious effort to be a big and dirty sludge band, to the point where every other riff seems like a way of showcasing just how thick that low A string sounds. Speaking of thickness, the mix is definitely commendable for an album that was tracked live. Jeppe Skouv's bass in particular seems to have been honed to perfection (albeit a pretty rough-round-the-edges perfection) and his playing stands out as an instrumental performance on the disc.
Press releases claim this album is a rendition of Scandinavian nature and narratives of the world. Now, press releases aren't known for their down to earth nature and damning assessment, but listening to this you can't help but think there was some kind of mix-up. Not to take away from the bands artistic intent, but a rendition of Scandinavian nature' and the relentless beating of a sludge band make for strange bedfellows indeed. There's no lack of passion in the band (drummer Rasmus Sejersen's snare drum must have come close to eating it on more than one occasion) but the live nature of the album unfortunately results in more of a sequence of riffs and sections than a well put-together song. These riffs and sections, when removed from context and taken on face value, are enjoyable enough but over the course of a song or album more dimensions are desperately needed. // 5
Lyrics: Maybe the lack of variety is down to vocalist Martin Nielskov; his scream is all well and good but when the guitars get real chunky something in a lower register could have worked wonders for keeping the ship afloat. Lyrically things could be worse, though if there were more songs with names like Dead People Don't Lie' and Forget The Forgotten' they would be. Obviously all of the deeper meaning described by the label comes with the lyrics, but I'm not one to judge such topics, especially when they're being screamed at me with the backing of a sludge metal band. What I can do is comment on some of the nice imagery that's evoked, with some help from the cover artwork (which can only be described as pretty cool'). Even if you can't fully engage with the entirety of the record it's not difficult to enjoy the depiction of storms, seasons and flames, metaphorical or otherwise. // 5
Overall Impression: Sludge aficionados may find merit where I have not, but Dead Storm' doesn't do much to stand out from the crowd. The most delicious riffs tend to be wrapped up tightly by several others which are a dime-a-dozen, and promising build-ups with interesting guitar work and a good manipulation of dynamics tend to make a fuss only to return to a similar sound from which they came. Overall this is an album that probably can be enjoyed to the fullest, but doing so might take a lot of work and a few doses of Prozac along the way. I wish you luck. // 5
- Duncan Geddes aka duncang (c) 2009