(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
What is there to be said about vocalist Lee Dorrian‘s post-Cathedral band With The Dead that hasn’t been said so many other places (sites)? Dorrian’s main project now, WTD holds quite a respectable bunch of lads in its band membership, that is for sure. Returning with Lee on the new studio album, “Love From With The Dead” once again, is guitarist Tim Bagshaw (ex-Electric Wizard/Serpentine Path). There’s also new blood in the personages of former Bolt Thrower drummer Alex Thomas and Lee’s old Cathedral band mate, bassist Leo Smee.
The involvement of that new blood seems to have wrought a whole new dimension of heaviness to With The Dead. Not just that alone though as there are definitely better production standards in place here when contrasted to that of the band’s 2015 self-titled debut. Things possess much clearer dynamics and fluidity, less drone-age and more reminiscent of Dorrian and Smee’s prior placement, Cathedral.
The bottom-heavy sludge and churning bog of dissonance within it still exists but there’s a livelier feel to this music. Powered by Bagshaw’s always-massive, misery-imbued riffs, a crushing wall of sound pummels you without release. Songs like “Isolation“, “Reincarnation Of Yesterday” or “Anemia” release wave after wave of six-string savagery.
While that transpires, the dirges of rhythmic rumbles ravage your flesh. Drum strikes seem like nuclear detonations as the mammoth low-end threatens to peel the flesh from your pulverized bones. As always, Dorrian’s vocals are a stand-out component of all that is happening. Their partially spoken, partially bellowed nature channels a somber state of lament as always.
The exploration of more atmospheric, even psychedelia-laced sonic lore in certain points of songs “Egyptian Tomb” and “Watching The Ward Go By” is mind-bending. The latter’s haze of minimalist audio and Lee’s clearly spoken words are simplistic yet eerie, or haunting, none the less.
For me personally, two of the record’s highest points come with two songs. First is “Cocaine Phantoms“, a number of pure, uncut doom godliness. Resonating guitar and absolutely pummeling bass slowly ooze from the speakers as the head-fuck trippiness takes hold of your very soul. A bit ethereal at turns but altogether, a perfect example of With The Dead at the utmost top of their downtrodden game.
Second, the eighteen minute-plus record closing “CVI” is an opus within an opus. Hellish, haunting, harrowing…and composed with lumbering drone elements. The occasional ignition of rapid fire drum bursts from the otherwise sparse strikes break the pace. Lee’s impassioned bemoaning vocals transmit a grievous feel to them until they go all effect heavy and lysergic. You truly feel a gravitational pull in the track, an imagined swirl beneath the soles of your feet as the song hammers away at you.
Yes, there is no doubt at all that With The Dead have evolved their sound by great leaps on “Love From With The Dead“. Attribute that to whatever you wish as it is clear the unit has taken on the mantle of being a more band-oriented entity it seems. This is doom for the ages, an unwavering, gargantuan behemoth of sonic sorrow and apocalyptic obliteration. Thy end awaits…..
“Love From With The Dead” will be released on September 22nd. It was produced by studio guru Jaime Gomez Arellano and is available for purchase at the following links: