2014 is turning out to be a pretty sweet year for the music of the slow variety. It is already witness to some astounding releases from the likes of YOB, Doom: VS, Earth, Pallbearer etc. A release that is equally on par or perhaps even more astounding than these is the third full length by Australian sludge dwellers, The Dead. Their ability to fuse doom, sludge and crushing death makes it a one of a kind genre bender. Titled ‘Deathsteps to Oblivion’, this records sees the band push the boundaries further with the unconventional, yet intriguing mix of sounds.
The primary weapon in the arsenal of The Dead is the pounding bass guitar. And what I mean by pounding, is that the bass lines are at the forefront of the assault as they come off as the song driving force. The guitars and drums play second fiddle to the bass lines, which is not something very common these days. Demonic chants echo as the album kicks off with ‘Maze of Fire’, following which the bass tone hits the listener face first. The distorted guitar add a heavy flavor the music.
The way the bass lines hold the listener in a hypnotic trance while the guitar weave dark melodies is simply addicting. ‘Disturbing the Dead’ follows it up with a heavy crushing tone, which is made heavier by the deep growls of vocalist Mike Yee. Equal parts of sludge and death, this is one of the heaviest tracks on the record. As the sound of gunfire marks the start of the third track ‘The God Beyond’, for a few seconds, it feels as if the band metamorphosed into a grind band. From there, a melancholic and beautiful instrumental takes shape. The guitar and bass harmony manages to mesmerize for a good four minutes before angelic female humming absolutely enthrall the listener.
The tribal sounding percussion welcome the listener into the fourth track ‘Terminus’. This is a track that is more akin to sludge metal, with devilish growls providing the voice. The album ends with the title track, a droning crusher that takes its sweet time to crush you into a pulp. The production in the album is quite spectacular. It is rough enough to give the guitars a grinding edge and it also allows the bass to thunder above the rumbling music.
This is one of those rare albums that is neither too conventional to be familiar, nor too unconventional to alienate the listeners. The songwriting hits the sweet spot of being both innovative and entertaining at the same time. This is definitely one of the essential doom albums of the year, which is quite an achievement considering the number of solid doom outputs 2014 has seen so far. Transcending Obscurity has scored yet another winner.