Review Summary: Deadbird doesn't reinvent the wheel with Twilight Ritual, but they add enough that it doesn't get stuck in all the sludge.
Like any genre of music, sludge metal seems to be stuck in a rut. When something gets popular, when a kind of music just makes you feel good, you want more. And there is always a group of whackjobs happy to provide. Dozens upon dozens of great bands keep on surfacing, eager to present their ‘new’ wall of sound to listeners everywhere. And, why not? Sludge metal is on the top of its game, with leading bands like Mastodon and Neurosis only gaining more popularity as each album releases. But here’s the problem; you get so many bands hoping to be the
next band, they get caught up in the creativity department. That’s when you need something a little fresh. Enter Deadbird.
Deadbird, a band hailing from Arkansas, isn’t afraid of a little variety in their sound. Like any sludge band hailing from the South, Deadbird is heavy, slow, and angry, and they’re not about to stop that so they can gain a few more fans. The sound here is typical of sludge – the guitars sound like they’re caked in mud, the bass is heavy in the mix, the drums are hard hitting, and damn, the vocals are raspy but also have some cleans. So far, Deadbird sound like a Baroness rip-off, right? Think again. Their sound isn’t one you can pinpoint completely, drawing all sorts of influences and coming up with sorts of sounds. Black metal? Sure. Doom metal? Uh-huh. Drone? It’s not Sunn O))), but Twilight Ritual
has its moments. Beautiful? A resounding yes.
For the most part, Deadbird is pretty straight forward. They yell as loud as they can and play as hard as they can, all at a nice ol’ 160 BPM. Each instrument plays a key role in the songs – even the bass. Though I wouldn’t call it the highlight of the album, the bass adds a lot of direction to the songs. Unlike some bands, where the bass is just an extra guitar, Twilight Ritual
’s bass is the real rhythm, and it’s set apart from the guitars. It thunders along underneath the music, easy to notice, and adding that extra layer to the wall of sludge. The drums do much the same, and keep it interesting with a few rolls here and there. The cymbals and snare are pretty loud in the mix, but never overshadow the performances of the other members. The guitars are the real gem though, with that perfect fuzz backing them up every step of the way. Each track is usually opened up with a little feedback, or, even better, some nice Southern metal guitar. The blues influence kicks in at times, especially during solos, but most of the playing is kept ‘metal’. Every once in a while, though, a lead guitar breaks off and plays something almost serene.
Instantly, the addition of a few notes can take a song that comes off as angry, and change it into something calming. Throughout the album, the sludge is prevalent, but it can take a backseat at times. In ‘Feral Flame’, the song breaks up halfway through to present a soulful guitar solo. A song that started as a droning soundscape suddenly changes. It’s not just the guitar, either, that does its job at creating a contrast, but also the vocals. The range here is pretty astonishing for sludge metal – typically, we’re presented with a raspy, Moonshine-propelled shout, and, if we’re lucky, a disembodied voice that ‘sings’. Deadbird, though, has whatever you like in their arsenal. The album is chock full of black metal growls, death-y shouts, almost hardcore vocals, and, very enjoyable clean vocals. They’re used when they should be, and none of them ever feel out of place in the songs.
If I have one complaint about the album, it’s that it doesn’t do anything new. It’s fresh, but in that sort of ‘Coke Zero’ fresh way. It’s fun, it’s different, it’s good, but, man, didn’t they do this before? Deadbird adds enough ideas into the formula to make me like them, but it’s more or less the same machine with a new paint job. Deadbird have a great sound going here, and it’s solid enough to propel them to the front lines of my sludge collection, but I don’t know how it’ll hold up over time. If they tweak their sound just a little bit, and take more of the clean breaks presented here, Deadbird might just get a ‘5.0’ from me.
is a good listen that has as many heavy moments as it does beautiful ones. Even when Deadbird crank their amps to omega-volume, you can sense the honesty in their sound. This isn’t the kind of sludge metal that’ll leave your ears ringing and your head spinning. It’s simple, heavy (just enough), and it’s oh so good. Whether you’re with friends or alone, sober or long gone, you should grab this. Sit back and relax, friend. Welcome to the Twilight Ritual