The Seattle area based band The Dead Science have been creeping onto the radar screens of music critics across the country over the last couple of years and with this new release titled “Frost Giant” they may just have launched themselves into the welcoming, but fickle arms of the elitist masses.
The band is a trio consisting of singer-guitarist Sam Mickens, and the Bischoff brothers Jherek (bass) and Korum (drums). Although the band is officially a trio, it is not of the “power” variety, it’s more akin to the “jazz” variety. Guest musicians fill in the spaces with keyboards, strings and other instruments making the word “trio” meaningless in describing the new album. Words that do describe it include gloomy, improvisational and “Holy Shit”! Post-punk combines with Jazz in a way that hasn’t been developed until now.
The Dead Science gave us much to look forward to on their previous releases, 2003’s Submariner and the 2004 EP Bird Bones In The Bughouse, but this record knocks it out of the park and solidifies a sound that is owned by The Dead Science alone. Comparisons to Radiohead will abound as the undercurrent is similar, as are the dynamic thrills both bands have learned to dole out with impeccable timing. However, The Dead Science contain 80% more gloom, which sometimes works so perfectly you could swear it was a nightmare. Sam Mickens voice is like nothing I’ve heard in pop music. He sounds like a dying man gasping for air not to save himself, but in order to gain enough strength that he may drag you into the grave as well. If cult web cartoon figure Salad Fingers sang in a band I believe it would sound like this.
This is head music that the even the most stuck-up music dork can take a bite out of. The rhythms are spot on while giving the illusion of being uncontrolled. The feeling of danger and doom is pushed forward not only by the zombie-like moan of the lead vocals, but by the dangerous sounding rhythms and dissonant guitar tones. Background instruments like strings give punctuation and lift passages to the point where the monster is just about to bust your skull in, but at the last moment it all falls beautifully apart into a million dirty pieces.
Even the album packaging is a piece of art. The cover is a photograph of a creepy forest where each tree is marked with a white band. This could be a place where a mass murder took place or maybe where witches gather to drink blood from goat skulls. The cover art is overlayed by a frosted sheet of Mylar, which gives the same illusion of fog that is contained in the music. It permeates everything. You only need to stop squinting and welcome it as part of the experience. Only then will you smell the brilliance.
Robert Burke spends much of his time lovingly crafting thematic music playlists at the Rhapsody Radish.
1. Last Return
2. In the Hospital
3. Drrrty Magneto
4. Sam Mickens’ Dreams
5. Future, Forever (Until You Die)
6. Blood Tuning
7. Black Stockings
8. Lil’ Half Dead
9. Lead to Gold in the Hour of Chaos