Review Summary: Another solid release, which is surprisingly free of electronics
After listening to The Dead C’s “Secret Earth” it is safe to say that this New Zealand “noise-rock” trio have successfully returned to their roots. Last years “Future Artists” showed the band at an odd stage; instead of cranking up the twisted guitar distortion Bruce Russell and co. were busy fiddling around with aimless electronics and fart noises. Don’t get me wrong,“Future Artists” was an enjoyable experiment but “Secret Earth” showcases the bands patented noise/drone sound while adding in fresh ideas as well.
“Secret Earth” only contains four tracks yet the album spans just over forty minutes. Throughout the album the listener is treated with relentless waves of guitar feedback that sound like they are coming out of a amp that has been beaten senselessly with a baseball bat. On top of this vocalist Mike Morley manages to creep his way into every song adding a cynical, hopeless sound to the music. The record as a whole conveys a harsh yet accessible atmosphere. The music is raw and skeletal but The Dead C manage to throw in enough melodic sections to keep this from being a wall of noise. Opener “Mansions” is propelled by a jagged guitar riff and Morley’s languid, muffled vocal delivery. Musically the song is pretty tame compared to the rest of the album and is sort of disappointing as it seems to drone on without much notable change.
Whereas many Dead C songs are too subdued “Secret Earth” showcases The Dead C at their most ferocious. “Plains” shows percussionist Robbie Yeats at his best; although his drums are buried under the mammoth guitar feedback his aggressive style is easily noticeable adding a solid rhythm section to the rugged guitar madness. “Stations” hints at post-rock featuring sluggish guitar chords that eventually evolve into an incomprehensible noise onslaught. “Waves” closes out the album on a somber note. Unlike the previous two numbers “Waves” does not progress into a guitar induced frenzy, instead the songs repetitive drumming and murky guitar strumming puts the listener in a trance.
“Secret Earth” sees The Dead C returning to their 90's style of “noise-rock” rather then their electronic littered music that they have been producing over the past couple of years. Although not as crushingly bleak as “Harsh 70's Reality” or as perplexing as “The White House”, “Secret Earth” is a pleasant return to the bizarre lo-fi noise that the band is most noted for.