Dead Soul is, essentially Anders Landelius and Niels Nielsen and the never-to-be-trusted PR blurb goes on about delta blues, electronica, Johnny Cash and Nick Cave meeting Nine Inch Nails. ‘New ‘ and ‘exciting’ were also mentioned. Feeling like the lass in a bar who always falls for the next guy’s ‘I’m a millionaire’ line I jumped at this. So here I am again waking up in the damp patch and my purse is empty. I never learn.
‘Until The Last Breath’ starts things up with some slightly grating plinky pliny keyboards, like Depeche Mode circa ‘New Life’. Yeuck. Thankfully though then the vocals come in and their excellent, beautifully controlled rich range usher in a kind of Nine Inch Nails keyboard wall of fuzz and the song becomes a sweeping, almost gospel number with full backing vocals and the kind of keyboard attack that you might describe as harsh if later NIN is your only reference point. ‘The Fool’ once again shows the vocals in their finest dramatic shade. The guy has a truly fine voice; range, depth and enough gravel around the lower register to remind you of Mr Cash when he was still running in his voice rather than the magnetic personality it acquired a few hundred thousand miles later. It’s a semi urgent song, bounces along on the keyboards with a healthy verve and despite its European roots drips clean Americana. ‘Shattered Dreams’ is a slower version, religious allusions aplenty, and like the previous songs sure in its execution and classy in all facets.
Now putting aside the fact that I personally can find precious little delta blues here, this leaning much more on the country/gospel twist of The Man Comes Around, and not a Nick Cave in sight, and that linking the electronics to NIN levels of intensity is pushing it (“So you’re not a millionaire either..? “) Dead Soul do have a lot going for them on their own terms. The production whilst not flashy, showcases their sound well and wisely allows the remarkable vocals to come through clean. The songs are all individual and composed with a deft talent, but share a sound and are brought together in a cohesive whole. I mean, these guys clearly know what they are about and how to get there. This is more than just professional, this is talented. Listen to a song like ‘The Abyss’ and you can see the control guiding them through a simple rhythmic approach towards a rising, resonant sound. ‘Home By The Sea’ also has a simple guitar picking sound that almost hits the stripped back delta sound until the keyboards close in.
Shoe drop time: It’s all that but.
For all the sound and the talent… I was struggling to put my finger on what I was finding off putting, what was keeping me at a distance. I then realised; too much of this sounds like music to the ‘meaningful montage’ they’d stick in at the end of a TV series episode. Someone has just died/made an irrevocable decision/done a bad thing and they play this over various head shots and walks down corridors. I’m not bothered that this isn’t the typical Ave Noctum underground/extreme style; it’s just for me something is slightly missing. Even a huge and quite wonderful song like the standout ‘Thy Will Be Done’ is a quarter step off opening me up and ripping out my heart on a string. Even with these exemplary vocals it’s too safe, too wrapped up behind its own veneer and because it hasn’t gone out on its own ledge musically, my soul didn’t feel the need to either and it simply becomes ‘a good listen’. Go and listen to some of the musical soundtrack to the game ‘Life Is Strange ‘, American indie-folk mostly and you’ll see what this could have been if it had just… just gone out in that ledge.
This is a good listen but never pushes me further. Sad because all the talent and heart is there, just they need to bare their soul too next time.