Label: Self-released (digitally on Bandcamp)
Release date: April 28, 2017
Ahh fuck. OK, so Dreadlords’ “Reapers.” Here I am, staring at my screen on this dank afternoon, trying to figure out how to convey my feelings about this. I won’t lie, this was like getting your junk stuck in the zipper and I’d rather not relive it by telling you all about it. But as a stalwart, nay, laconic reviewer, I feel it’s my duty to let the world know. Slip on some fire-retardant long johns, we’re diving into this dumpster fire.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Dreadlords is black metal at first glance. They have the ol’ spoopy look and song titles down pat, but musically you get a dark southern US folk affair. Your average song here wants to evoke a Bible-belter’s occult nightmare; it was evidently recorded with a banjo with a pickup, and is accompanied by vocals that vary somewhat with each song but are generally gruff in a sing-song style.
And it all just grates on your nerves like you wouldn’t believe. The dissonant twanging is repetitive and gets worse the faster they go at it; just try making it through the track “Black as Hell” without biting off your own tongue. The songs here also build up to nothing. Just bloody nothing, they’re anticlimactic and go nowhere. They’re made all the more unbearable by lyrics that I can only hope are goofy by design, and the ridiculous southern rasp is impossible to take seriously. Songs like “Rise from the Grave” are beyond irritating both instrumentally and lyrically (“Malachai was possessed by a ghost that haunted his uncle Phil?”).
As if that’s not enough, there’s the samples. The overuse of samples is the tramp stamp of atmospherically bankrupt bands, and far too many songs on “Reapers” are blighted by them. “War” in particular abuses samples like a snarky redheaded middle child; it starts with the sound of a phone autodialing a 10-digit number, followed by the voice of a 911 agent answering (you know, that ten-digit 911 line), and ragged whimpering that pops up numerous times throughout the entire song. On other tracks you’ll also be treated to classics like multiple samples of talking layered over each other, reversed speech, growling, nature sounds, and the sound of a shovel digging a grave for thirty goddamned seconds; you’ll wish you could just jump headfirst into that fucking hole.
But let’s give “Reapers” credit where it deserves it. The drumming, when present, is primitive and ritualistic, and suits the sound that they were going for quite well. While the more fast-paced tracks are irritating as all shit, there are a couple of moody moments on the slower parts when the vocals are either tamed or absent. “War,” despite my gripes with the samples, starts fairly ominously from an instrumental standpoint, though that momentum is squandered when they end the song abruptly. The final track, “Reapers,” is the best track here – the vocals are more tolerable and it actually builds up to a climax and ends the album on a decent note, but by that point it’s too little and far too late.
I’ll give them this: Dreadlords is certainly a unique project, but that doesn’t always translate to being good. Stapling the hole in my sock shut was “unique” but let me tell you, it wasn’t a good fucking idea. It’s a shame; these guys seem talented, and I can conceptualize what they were going for, but the execution didn’t pan out and I’d rather head-butt a hornet nest than sit through “Reapers” again. If you’re feeling particularly masochistic, you can check them out yourself at https://dreadlords.bandcamp.com/ .
You can find Voidhanger on twitter plotting the logistics of kicking hornet’s nests (and being the girl who did so), and hoping he remembers the ten digit number to 911.