DeadlockThe Arsonist on Napalm, yep there could be many a pun used there and another in the form of what is it about Deadlock that literally sets me on fire? I mean this is a band I should hate, one I should normally avoid like the plague. Their brand of melodic death metal borders on the side of metalcore in a way that is too close to comfort, just listen to the chundering bass riff at the very start of opening track ‘The Great Pretender’ to see what I mean. Then there is the positive happy vibe behind the songs, they are shit grinningly upbeat to a point of a sugar coated nausea at times; hell if I didn’t know better I would not have been surprised to find out they were a bloody Christian metal band. The second this dropped in though it went straight on my review pile and I eagerly rubbed my hands together before playing it and it has hardly been off a day since it arrived.

Of course a lot of my love has to do with the vocals of Sabine Scherer. I’m a sucker for a good female vocalist but she is not a good female vocalist but a great one in my book. The second her melodious and rafter reaching voice soars in on that opening track I am whisked off in its grip and thrown about by its life affirming charge; completely at odds from listening to a preferred choice of music like depressive suicidal black metal. I have almost seen the light! As with many bands of their ilk Deadlock feel the need to have a male growler to augment Sabine’s vocals, that’s their choice even if I find it superfluous at times. A spanner was thrown in the works with the loss of founding member Johannes Prem in 2011 meaning that bassist John Gahlert had to step into the breach. If you have listened to the band since they started you may find he takes a bit of getting used to and I am getting there myself; for me though the beast is leashed and it is the beauty my ears are focused on. The musicianship is tight and dynamic as ever and rages at times in a fast and furious fashion but at others it borders on a commercial pop feel that you could expect hitting the charts and again should have me running to the hills; done so precisely and passionately though I just cannot help but find myself drawn in like a moth to a flame. Take the chorus of Dead City Sleepers for example, one could imagine someone like Rihanna or whoever is popular these days singing it.

The ten track 40 minute album delivers things concisely which is one of the reasons I keep coming back for more, it adheres to the perfect pop song length in every way. The title track takes it up to an incendiary level with some retro keyboard peels, backing choral chants, a touch of rave dynamic and a chorus that is just simply unforgettable. This is the bands ‘Firestarter’ make no doubt about it “The earth will turn to a funeral pyre, fire fire” are the words, once heard never forgotten and how the hell do they make something like this sound so happy? We are talking about world destruction, earth die screaming and all that after all! After some really burgeoning and somewhat mad numbers Hurt takes after the great NiN track and slows it down to just Sabine’s vocals and keyboard delivering a beautiful heartfelt ballad that makes your heart melt. I am reminded a bit of Lee Douglas contributions to Anathema here which is high praise indeed. The track picks up with a guitar solo and sweeps along lifting you up and taking you along for the ride; marvellous.

It’s not all gushing praise though, after all they have decided to cover Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown Boy’ and no matter how good you are, a shit annoying song will always remain a… and this is an atrocity. Speaking of which perhaps we should blame their label mates who got there first. There has to be at least a half mark lost for it, although I  lose too for instantly recognising it without having seen the track listing first. ‘My Pain’ indeed it’s left for that particular track to put us back on the right path after the skip button is pressed. It’s odd as I could see this going down a storm in an Ibiza nightclub too but perhaps the unrelenting and rare British heat has got to me too. Put it simply, you are either going to love this or hate it and in the hands of the wrong reviewer the mark for this could easily be a 2. As for me normal service will be resumed if only I can stop playing this blasted album!

(8/10 Pete Woods)