Dead Neanderthals - Blood Rite review

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Band: Dead Neanderthals
Album: Blood Rite
Release date: July 2020

01. Blood Rite

I've heard of death metal bands doing free jazz albums, but free jazz bands doing death metal albums?

Ok maybe not death metal, but more doom death, or rather doooooooom death, where the doom is so slow it's basically a drone metal album, but whose heaviness and growls ground it in death metal. This is pretty much a far cry from the usual free jazz (or "new wave of Dutch heavy jazz" as they call it) of Dead Neanderthals, but it's not like they weren't already renowned for shifting their sound, from collaborations with bands like Sly & The Family Drone, a post-metal side project in Twin Sister or some grindcore tinged releases like Body Horror. However none of these were really a Dead Neanderthals album that was clearly metal. Which Blood Rite is, in both sound and aesthetic.

For one, the duo does away with the saxophone and any remnants of jazz from their usual sound, replacing it instead with some mighty synths. Yes, synths, as this album has no actual guitars, but it takes a while to realize that. The synths are hellishly distorted, managing to sound like a wall of guitar and a wall of synths at the same time or shifting in between sounding like either one of the two, while still clearly being a single entity, thus propelling the sound further into drone metal territory, while the distorted tones clearly emulate the heavy doom death that the cover art alludes to. Joining the synths are some plodding drums, whose pace never really picks up enough for it to leave its glacial feeling, and for the first time on a Dead Neanderthals record: vocals. The low wordless grunty ones.

Atmosphere is a big part of Blood Rite's appeal, with its crushing and suffocating sound, often times sounding like the death metal version of a Sunn O))) album, as well as how big of a contrast it is with what one expects from this band. Originally supposed to be the surprise basis of a set for Roadburn Festival, it's clear that these two elements would've made a live performance pretty damn great, but they don't completely translate to record in a way that is exactly as pleasing. Though 27 minutes isn't that long for an album's runtime, and drone isn't necessarily known for being very entertaining, I do wish there was just a bit more happening during the track's runtime instead of relying on atmosphere alone, maybe some changes of pace, maybe some remnants of their jazz sound, maybe some ambient sections, pretty much anything that would provide some more dimensionality to the sound. Though it doesn't have as crushing of an atmosphere or as cool an aesthetic, their record as Twin Sister does show their heavy side without succumbing to monotony.

I do hope this won't be the last time we see these mad lads doing forays into heavier territories, and hopefully their next ones will be a bit more substantial.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 9
Production: 7


Written on 22.07.2020 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.

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