Deadlock – The Arsonist
Release Date: July 30, 2013
It seems that 2013 is bringing about a lot of new bands making names for themselves as well as older bands still keeping themselves relevant in an ever revolving world. One of these older bands that have always kept my attention over the years is Deadlock. To me, they were a key component in helping develop my taste for music in terms of clean female vocals (I’m picky about those to no end) and combining many elements together almost like those of progressive metal bands. Deadlock brings a new album to the table in the form of The Arsonist, which has a lot of work to do to overcome their previous works, especially Manifesto which serves as my favorite album of their discography.
Deadlock is a mix of metalcore with elements of melodic death metal sprinkled on top. Although a part of popular genres, they seem to be pretty unknown considering. I’ll ask my friends if they have ever heard of them and every answer was always a no. Despite this, I always found these guys to be talented, especially their clean vocalist, Sabine Scherer, who always surprises me with every album she is a part of. Spoiler: She is still just as powerful and amazing on this album. Along with her vocals, you also have the male harsh vocals, this time done by the bassist John Gahlert. He had replaced the main lyricist, Johannes Prem, and his bass duties were relieved by Ferdinand Rewicki. These sudden line-up changes really had me concerned for the future of the band, in hopes that their evolution would be stinted almost instantly with this. But hey, I’m still giving them a chance.
The Arsonist starts off hot and heavy, unlike some of their previous works. The new harsh vocalist is the first up at bat after an interesting guitar entrance that resonates that familiar Deadlock sound. Sabine soon enters as well, recreating the opposite sides of the vocal spectrum. At first, I wasn’t really sure what to think of the new vocalist, but after a while he has grown on me. I still feel that Johannes is the better harsh vocalist, but John does well with keeping up with the duties but putting his own spin on it. “The Great Pretender” is a great opener, bringing in a lot of heavy riffs and dividing up sections with a soft insertion here and there. Sabine also creates an almost poppy atmosphere in the track as well.
“I’m Gone” feels like it should have switched places with “The Great Pretender”, as it follows the formula the band is known for more so than the previous. Oh well, even with this little inconsistency, it still comes out with guns blazing after it’s gentle introduction. Sebastian Reichl’s catchy guitar work is very apparent on this song and throughout, which is another trademark established within the band’s sound. Metalcore tends to get hate throughout the metal community, but Deadlock is able to transcend that “label” with their approach and ambition.
“Dead City Sleepers” was one of the songs that was released in hopes of gaining some attention for the album. The chorus is addicting, and after several listens you can hear the little hooks in the verses as well. Although the instrumental work isn’t the most technical, it is nice to hear the Ferdinand’s bass work bringing everything together alongside Tobias Graf’s tight drum work.
The title track comes off immediately as the anthem song, with the introduction of “gang” vocals and overall energy within the lyrics and vocal work. I don’t recall the band having a song of this nature on their previous releases but it works none-the-less. This new direction is interesting and luckily enough they don’t fall on their face when taking it.
One thing I’m not liking about this album is how direct it seems to be, especially if you compare it to previous works. I’m not one to compare one work to another when it comes to reviews, but seeing as how I’m pretty familiar with these guys, it can’t be helped. Sure, there are the little electronic insertions they are known to use, but I feel like they are being a bit more formulaic than they ought to be. One minor setback.
“Hurt” features Sabine singing on her own, with the backing of pianos. This is another trend this band has set, by giving her one track on the album to sing by herself. “Hurt” may possibly be one of the best tracks they have made with her solely on vocals. The piano is somber, much like the vocals, and is further enhanced by the huge orchestral turn at certain points. At the two-thirds mark, the emotion begins to pour out at its max and you can’t help but let your jaw drop to the ground.
“The Final Storm” continues the epic orchestral but adds in Gahlert’s harsh vocal and the rest of the band. It doesn’t exactly connect or transition from one to the other as if it was part of a concept album or something but there is a close connection in some sound that you could think of it as a continuation from the previous. John takes the reigns with this track and it works out greatly as it heavily contrasts from the previous, bringing about a great measure of variety. Variety hasn’t really even been a problem here but a bit more does not hurt.
“Small Town Boy”, a Bronski Beat cover, is a huge surprise. After checking out the original and comparing, I’m quite pleased with how Deadlock was able to keep the song intact but adding in their own sound on top of it. A bit out of place with their main focused style, but this track really adds some value to what these guys are able to pull off.
The Arsonist continues and ends on the same vibe as “Small Town Boy” with the song “My Pain”, going with the 80s sound in the chorus. Combine the vocalists into an electronic driven dance routine. Yeah, I know, it definitely isn’t something I was expecting. Also note, the guitar is another focus to listen to, especially around the solo.
This album is an immediate hit but at the same time a grower in a sense. New fans will most likely dig this release while older fans may be put off (as I was for sure). Given time though this album will, for sure, be on my top lists. Deadlock still have a few obstacles to get through with line-up changes and finding which direction they fit in, but I believe these guys will keep their relevance intact for quite a while longer. Definitely check this release out, it is totally worth it.