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Album Review


We Empty Rooms

Review Date
2nd March 2012
Reviewed by
Nich Cunningham

Melbourne boasts a rich history of innovative and interesting underground music. Some better-known examples might be The Boys Next Door or The Dirty 3 but there are some great more-obscure acts like The Eddie Current Suppression Ring, Whitehorse or The Day Everything Became Nothing. There is also a fantastic record store there called Missing Link, which offers a fine selection of Australian and international music. So with all this in mind, it’s not really surprising that DEAD could (seemingly) suddenly emerge fully formed and offer up their own brand of fascinating, eclectic and unconventional sludgy punk.

DEAD’s debut album Thundaaaaah! possesses a strong minimalist streak. The band consists of merely a bassist and drummer but the aesthetic also permeates their music, which is often hypnotic and repetitious or sparse and empty but this is not ambient music: it jars and is acerbic. DEAD fails to fit neatly into a convenient category. The band describe themselves as punk but given their propensity towards pisstake (“Most other bands are awful but not DEAD, they’re awesome” goes the bio.) it’s difficult to know how to take anything they say.

Labels aside, the music has legs. 'Wherever You Go We Will Catch You' stands out as the band’s magnum opus. What starts out with a simple Slint-esque instrumental pattern falls away into some kind of quasi-Morricone whistling refrain (!) before reaching its final destination: a wall of fuzzed out screaming vitriol. It’s really good. And this, in a nutshell, is typical of what you can expect from Thundaaaaah! With an obvious leaning towards the extreme, DEAD never loose their grip on the contrasts that are essential to maintain compulsion and prevent music like this from turning into a dull bludgeoning.

DEAD are a refreshing new voice and a reminder that, in the right hands, less can be more. Stripped back to the bare bones, they remain menacing but without any tedious histrionics or tough guy antics. Thundaaaaah! is great. It has humour and it has anger. It is a wall of noise but also delicate and open. It’s like being punched in the face while getting a back rub. And really, isn’t that what everyone wants?


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