Deadlock

The Arsonist

Written by: TL on 21/11/2013 15:59:38

Arriving at their sixth full length since starting their career in 2002, it seems that German melodeath outfit Deadlock are relatively well established in the European metal underground by now, partly I think because the concept of their band is pretty unique. While founded on a conventional melodic death metal likely inspired by the likes of In Flames and Soilwork, Deadlock has a vocal back and forth going between harsh male vocals and female cleans and a persistent focus on enviromental issues in their lyrics that's a pretty rare combo for the genre, and when you also combine that with their experiments with both electronic elements and some darker fantasy-themes alá Within Temptation, the end result has been pretty unique, at least in the past.

For me though, it felt like the band peaked artistically with 07's "Wolves" and 08's "Manifesto", while 11's "Bizarro World" felt solid but uninspired, and since then founding member Johannes Prem, who was the growler and primary lyricist, has parted ways with the band, seeing bassist John Gahlert step up to do the harsh vocals in his place. The turnover does not seem to have brought much new inspiration however, because the new album "The Arsonist" sounds most of all like a tempering of all the band's ideas, into solidly constructed, yet predictable and somewhat underpowered songs.

The deal here is that you get melodeath of the In Flames variety, that has been tamed in production to appeal to wider audiences, with Gahlert mostly taking care of the verses with a standard metalcore growl while frontwoman Sabine Scherer delivers catchy clean-sung melodies in the choruses. Only Scherer sounds almost weary on occasion, like she's trying to sing the words so neatly that she doesn't get the power and urgency into them that would have fit the album's lyrical themes of basically being so pessimistic about society that you want to burn the whole thing down.

The main exceptions come in the title track and "I'm Gone", which set up some of the most noteworthy choruses early on at tracks two and four, but as the album trails on things start to feel increasingly mediocre, with the various vocal and instrumental parts all appearing solid and sufficient, yet never really flourishing to light up the soundscape with some much needed charisma. Especially the mid-paced metalcore verses feel completely typical for the genre, like the band is content to just recycle things they learned making their previous albums in hopes of maybe getting a hit by sheer stroke of coincidence.

I imagine people in Deadlock's camp could be excited about releasing an album with such a nice production and such tightly wound songs as "The Arsonist" has, because it seems like the kind of album a band of their stature could use to try and reach a wider audience, yet I think it's inevitably going to be an unsuccesful venture, simply because for all the album's solidness and decency it is just that - that and unspectacular to the point where even endless repeat spins fail to provide anything captivating, to prevent your attention from seeking elsewhere just a few songs in. The closing track "Small Town Boy" makes an attempt at sounding things off with dramatic synths and guitars, but it's too little too late, and overall "The Arsonist" is the kind of album that there's technically nothing wrong with, yet there's really nothing very exciting about it either.

6

Download: I'm Gone, The Arsonist, Small Town Boy
For The Fans Of: The Agonist, Eyes Set To Kill, Light This City
Listen: facebook.com/deadlockofficial

Release Date 26.07.2013
Napalm Records

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