Dead Season give in on The Negative NUMBers

Killing me softly
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  June 1, 2011

beat1_DeadSeason_main
FEELING THEIR URGES Dead Season.

What's that Neil Young said about castles burning? "Don't let it bring you down?" Someone ought to tell Dead Season. The band previously known for keeping a stiff upper lip through trying times have, on their new EP, given in to a little wallowing.

The first song on The Negative NUMBers? "Every Day (Is Not My Day)." Morrissey can get away with sad-sack, woe-is-me, "Every Day is Like Sunday," but a bad-ass metal band? It's slightly less charming. No wonder they up the aggression, the grime, to counterweight the navel-gazing.

The Truman brothers have always worn their hearts on their sleeves (metaphorically — they don't actually seem to wear sleeves very often), so it shouldn't come as a surprise, as they move toward the mid-career point for a local band, that they give vent to some of the frustration that can inevitably set in, developing some rabbit ears after time spent in the relative limelight.

"Hate Me," opening almost new-agey before Ian Truman's back-of-the-throat vocal entry, is certainly a sign of a band tired of turning the other cheek: "Pathetic is what you are/You're acting like a clown/You hate me because you hate yourself."

Giving in to these urges has made the band sound angrier, less melodic. "Man's Game" is as full-on scream-o as they've ever been, upping the ante with energy and likely creating a new pinnacle for the live show. As one of the band's calling cards has always been accessibility despite their heaviness, this is something of a risk on Dead Season's part. Does this play to the core, or is this a sign they're less worried about what people think?

"Anxiety (Tries to Kill Me)" makes it hard to argue the latter. The most interesting song here musically, with a variety of backing deliveries amounting to a call-and-response cadence, it would seem the pressure of the outside world is "choking the life from me." Combine that with the self-doubt inherent in the "Zombie Man" that follows, and it's hard to escape the idea this is a band somewhat set adrift.

Bassist Steve Church has left since their third full-length, Life Death, replaced by Chris Michaud, and while drummer Andy Hackett remains, there was talk at one point of his departure as well. Is this a band just not having fun anymore?

Hell no. Bands getting too serious simply do not finish an EP with a cover of "(I Just) Died in Your Arms." Released by Cutting Crew in 1986, spending time on the charts with the likes of "With or Without You" and "La Isla Bonita," this is a song that's right in Dead Season's wheelhouse, fitting their aesthetic and allowing them to just go off on a song built for being over the top.

This EP might be slightly more self-indulgent than Dead Season have delivered in the past, but it's a change of pace and offers up some evidence these guys aren't immune to giving in to their urges.

Sam Pfeifle can be reached at  sam_pfeifle@yahoo.com.

THE NEGATIVE NUMBERS | Released by Dead Season | at Club Texas, in Auburn | June 4 | at the Asylum, in Portland | July 9 | deadseasonmusic.com

  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, Andy Hackett, Ian Truman,  More more >
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