Album Title: Deadrisen
Label: AFM Records
Date of Release: 13 March 2020
Is there any release these days that doesn’t feature bassist Mike LePond? He seems to be everywhere at the moment, popping up all over the place. And here he is again, wielding the four-string in a new band by the name of Deadrisen. This self-titled full-length is the band’s debut, the brainchild of guitarist Rod Rivera of Rivera/Bomma fame. Joining Rivera and LePond are keyboardist Tony Stahl (Livesay), drummer Dan Prestup (Midnight Eternal) and lead vocalist Will Shaw (Heir Apparent).
On paper therefore, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Deadrisen would be worth your time and attention. And, if you’re a fan of progressive power metal then you’d be correct, because ‘Deadrisen’ features some great performances and more than a few decent compositions. Each musician is clearly very adept in their role and they come together to create a very pleasant listening experience.
However, that’s the slight rub with this album – it is simply ‘decent’ and ‘pleasant’. The music is of an undeniably proficient standard and for the most part, it gallops along with energy and enthusiasm. But crucially, there’s almost nothing new or original here and even more disappointingly given the clientele involved, there’s precious little to spark my enthusiasm above offering an appreciative nod or doff of the cap in their direction.
Will Shaw is a very accomplished singer with a good range, particularly in the higher register. He is also enthusiastic. But I can’t help thinking that he is trying too hard here to be Russell Allen of Symphony X. In fact, come to think of it, there are undeniable echoes of the American progressive metal juggernaut throughout this album. Many of the riffs created by Rivera could have come off a Symphony X outtake reel, as heard within the likes of ‘Prophecy’ or ‘Maker’ as just two examples of what I’m talking about. Admittedly, the former benefits from a rather catchy chorus and the latter has an interesting mid-section that explores one or two interesting keyboard sounds. But there’s definitely a whiff of Symphony X to be heard.
And, when the band veer a little off the beaten track and incorporate some other influences, such as a touch of blues and old school rock heard within the ballad-like ‘Reach For The Sun’, my ears are pricked and I begin to hear the whispers of what could have been, had the band been more willing to take a few more chances. The melodies are delightful and there’s a certain something about the track that I really like; it feels like it has more heart than the songs before it somehow.
‘Visions’ has more of an aggressive sheen, whilst also sounding more theatrical at the same time. And ‘Chains Of Time’ seeks to channel the spirit of 80s classic Maiden-meets-Priest-inspired heavy metal with a vigorous tempo, gang vocals and a devil-may-care attitude. Sadly, on both counts, they are both very ordinary compositions with little else to get excited about.
The album ends with a cover of one of my favourite Metallica tracks, ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’, the perfect song to allow the spotlight to fall one last time on the bass playing of Mike LePond. He does, as you’d expect, an incredibly good job at demonstrating his prowess on a classic heavy metal song and indeed, the whole band make a damn good fist at recreating the song. But it’s so close to the original that you have to wonder what the point of it is. If I want to hear the Metallica version, I’ll listen to the Metallica version, not the Deadrisen version.
It’s not often that a release on the AFM roster fails to hit the mark. Unfortunately ‘Deadrisen’ is one of those rare occurrences. It gives me no joy to reach this conclusion but after several spins, I remain thoroughly unconvinced by this record. It is professionally created and performed, and it is perfectly decent in its own way. But I’m afraid, when I listen to hundreds of albums a year, it has to be better than decent if it is going to keep my interest for any length of time beyond the review cycle. It’s a shame, but it’s also the truth I’m afraid.
The Score of Much Metal: 67%
Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: