Saturday 17 October 2015

With The Dead - S/T (Album Review)

Release date: October 16th 2015. Label: Rise Above Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

With The Dead – S/T – Tracklisting

01. Crown of Burning Stars
02. The Cross
03. Nephthys
04. Living With The Dead
05. I Am The Virus
06. Screams From My Own Grave

Band Members:

Lee Dorrian - Vocals
Mark Greening - Drums & Concussion
Tim Bagshaw - Guitar & Bass


People shouting and rushing around amidst the confusion. Who is this poor gentleman that has staggered into my place of work and collapsed?

We clear a space, asking startled and frightened patients to take a seat and let him breathe as we slowly make our way towards the crumpled figure, slumped on the floor by the reception desk.

Who is he? What's caused this? And why is he here?

It's the postman. And he's been crushed by the sheer heaviness of the shiny new With The Dead record he's just hand delivered to me.

So much has been already said about this band that's barely a year old, just released their first music and have yet to set foot on stage together. There's a lot of hype (which is a fucking awful word by the way) about the members of WTD. Dorrian, Bagshaw and Greening. (I'm not going to list past CV's as I will assume you have heard heavy music before)

Expectations are high. And does the record live up to those expectations?

Yes. So. Much. Yes.

From the moment the impossibly heavy opener "Crown Of Burning Stars" smashes it's way into your life it's obvious that this is going to be a special record for a lot of people. That familiar rhythm section back together making proper heavy fucking riffs that certain other doom bands (soap operas) would sell their Oxfam flares to be turning out.

Tim Bagshaw's disgustingly fuzzy riffs will make you feel dirty and uncomfortable and latch onto you unwilling to let go. Mark Greening's massive tom fills sound, well just fucking massive! And then there's the vocals. For me the thing that put me off Cathedral were the vocals. This is unmistakeably Lee Dorrian singing over these, but this time his voice sounds more real. More feral. Just more. And I'm a convert now.

2nd track "The Cross" keeps the momentum going and features a great outro with some lovely guitar harmonies and samples presumably straight from a 70's horror movie.

"Nephthys" features more of those wicked guitar/bass harmonies and proves Tim Bagshaw can do more than just produce bowel troubling heavy riffs and features a catchy chorus which if I'm honest I wasn't expecting from this record.

"Living With The Dead" opens with another truly creepy sample "You see I can't help you. I'm dead. Aren't you?" before the chorus erupts, with another hulking great riff that seems to slow down as it progresses as Lee bellows the title over the cacophony beneath him.

"I Am Your Virus" is a personal favourite of mine. The track got briefly published on YouTube so you may have heard it before it was taken down. (I think it was leaked after a radio play of the track) It's a bristling and confident track which has a swagger and groove to it that maybe you wouldn't expect on a record like this.

"Screams From My Own Grave" opens with just drums. You can hear those trademark 30" cymbals ringing out awash with reverb and just before the minute mark the track kicks in. This is proper doom right here. Slow, monolithic riffs and more of those almost tortured vocals as the track and album crawl towards their conclusion. As the track starts to fade away, a Hammond organ makes an appearance and some truly fucking horrific sampled (I hope) screams resonate in the background as the guitars and bass give way to feedback and we're done.

I've already seen some people saying they're not that keen on With The Dead, or that they don't get the fuss about them. Some probably because it's "cool" to knock what is perceived as the next big thing and some because they're just not into it. And that's fine. Because music is subjective and we all like what we like.

For me though. With The Dead very much deserve the praise and attention that has surrounded them. This is as heavy as anything else I've heard from this trio (or any other bands for a while for that matter) and there were clearly some demons exorcised here.

Between them they have released some truly landmark albums in the genre and I think they may have just gone and done it again. To borrow a phrase from the old guard......

Fuck Weak Doom.

Words by Simon Ross Wililams

With The Dead is available to buy on CD/Vinyl from Rise Above Records now. Read our interview with Mark Greening that Simon did recently.