Dead Now – Dead Now

2 out of 5

Label: Brutal Panda

Produced by: Carl Saff (mastered by)

This isn’t a fair rating, really. Dead Now’s sludgey hardcore is more than competent, and not unfun. It sounds good. It’s got crunch; it’s got the 70s vocals; it’s got some truly badass breakdowns. The group straddles the line between poppy Queens of the Stone Age-style boogie and torn up Scissorfight-adjacent rawk, and that is very desireable. This is, for sure, the kind of stuff that would rock live, and you’d float over to the merch table and pick something up for the right price.

But, following the live thread, Dead Now is an opening act. And while everyone’s favorite band was an opening act at some point, there are also those groups that never quite break free of that: they have a sound that works, and maybe some played-with recommendations that garner a nod, and they do the job of getting people warmed up, but you forget about them once the headliner comes on.

The ‘why’ of this is surely individual, but some of it, I think, has to do with the DNA of what you’re hearing: if Dead Now is one of your few exposures to this style, it probably sounds pretty revolutionary. But if you’re familiar with any of the million+ bands similar to those two named above, you’ve not only heard the majority of these bits and pieces before, but you’ve heard them done with a bit more smoothness, and uniqueness,as DN’s straddling of styles is not seamless. You can hear the stitching of the various influences; the singing isn’t “like” those 70s Southern rock bands of yore, it’s exactly like them, and the snippets of lyrics that peek through don’t have the cheek of a Scissorfight or any phrases that catch for singalongs or memorability.

All of this is rather harsh, so I’d underline the positives: that at a surface level, this stuff definitely rocks, and the crew is zipped it – they do the act tightly. I liked the concept quite a bit; each track has one breakout moment, it just doesn’t last, or isn’t enough to sustain / buoy the rest of the song.

There is one exception, here – Powershapes. It’s not that the group is particularly unshowy here, or leaving behind their various sounds-like aspects, but they leave the beaten path a bit in terms of how the song is layered, and they’re patient in applying those layers. It’s the only song, to my ears, that sounds like their own thing instead of a Frankenstein construction that stands next to other Frankensteins.

A positive takeaway for stuff that has a solid framework like Dead Now’s, though, is that they’re a group to watch. The trio is on the cusp of something super cool, and I don’t mind holding on to this and giving it a few more plays to be ready for when they pass that threshold on, hopefully, a following release.