self released, 2010, DD EP, 27m 36s
Ominous, dissonant, powerful, and employing a vocabulary that predates any form of extreme metal, it would be easy to class Another Dead Hero’s music as epic doom, for its atmosphere and for its approach, but it’s not so easily pigeonholed stylistically. It sounds like Another Dead Hero, which is to say that it doesn’t sound immediately unlike anything you’ve heard before, but on closer examination it sounds remarkably little like anything you’ve heard either.
Children Of The Witch is a high concept recording, initiating a narrative intended to be articulated across two further releases, and inspired by the Salem witch trials. It’s not necessary to know this to enjoy it, and you might well not pick up on that just from song titles like ‘The Court Of Oyer And Terminer’ (a commission used in Courts of Assize until the 1970s), but if you do, it adds greatly to the emotional impact and dramatic power of the EP.
The songs are melodic, and the arrangements employ a lot more than the run of the mill metal timbres (i.e. heavy, or palm muted): the modalities are predominantly minor, rather than blues based, and there is frequently a folky slant to the sound. There are some very kinetic low dynamic textures, with clean guitars ringing out over a rolling bass riff, and of course there are also some headbangingly heavy moments. If you tuned in mid-stream however, you’d be likely to mistake this for some milder form of rock than metal.
Without mentioning any obvious doom metal sources, there are elements in this recording that remind me of all sorts of bands: I heard flavours of Black Sabbath, Led Zepellin and even Pink Floyd (in the vocal melody to ‘Children Of The Witch’). All 1970s rock bands, sure, but pretty disparate nevertheless, and that’s a token of the artistic success of this project. Although Another Dead Hero employ a recognisable vocabulary, and are unlikely to upset anyone’s idea of what metal should sound like, it’s a very creative, non-generic and distinctive sound, and owes as clear a debt to influences outside the world of metal as to those inside it.
This EP has that epic feel down to a tee, with that slow moving, irresistible sense of juggernaut narrative, but it gets there by means other than the conventional stock phrases of the genre. Outside of orchestral music, it’s really only metal that can do this sort of Wagnerian, army-on-the-march feeling, and it’s very pleasing to hear Another Dead Hero exploiting those possibilities in such an intelligent and creative way. I’m enjoying this recording a lot, and I look forward to hearing how the story turns out.