Dorrian. Bagshaw. Greening. One band. Shall we just stop now?…
Given the press surrounding the marriage of ex-Electric Wizard (and please can we not forget Ramesses?!) members to Rise Above founder Lee Dorrian, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we’re about to experience our own version of the mid-90s East-West Rap war. So let’s forget all that nonsense and focus on Doom supergroup With The Dead’s eponymous debut album.
With The Dead (Rise Above) ploughs a similar furrow to their West Country rivals yet delivers a filthy edge to whirling vocals and Tim Bagshaw’s riffs which energises the sound somewhat, and lifts it above that over-trodden path. The crushing riff of opener ‘Crown of Burning Stars’ is lightened ever so slightly by a slow groove, slightly fuzzed production and a Psych effect to Dorrian’s bellow which doesn’t dilute its lascivious, malevolent sneer. The ensuing ‘The Cross’ possesses a lively yet portentous structure, sonorous rhythms performing a lazy American smooth with the mind, the groove almost catching but never testing the gravitas.
Whilst the occasionally bloated ‘Nephthys’ falls into the same stodgy moss as Witchsorrow, a Sludge mentality gives the titanic, crawling ‘Living With The Dead’ an early fire: first flattening with oscillating guitars and roars, then dropping to a gentle, sparing rhythm. The explosion is coming however, and in true Hammer Horror-drenched fashion: the hypnotic yet mournful crush swaddling the listener in a diseased cocoon. The head-nodding, slow rut of ‘I Am The Virus’ is decorated with cosmic effects and more cavernous roars, those brief flashes of lead and hulking drums enlivening some rather clunky lyrics. In an unbearably tense finale the crushing weight of closer ‘Screams From My Own Grave’ gradually imbues the sense of claustrophobic, crawling terror that is so obviously the intention.
With The Dead is yet another 2015 Doom album that won’t win prizes for originality, and one wonders how much further this particular twig of the branch has left to grow. It’s an album that does, however, possess enough variance, power, identity and nefarious intent to be a worthy addition to the annals.