The hammer of the celebrity gods strikes again
It’s okay to let our inner dungeon master show every now and again. You know – admit to liking “Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings” for the gloom and doom; admit to liking Led Zeppelin in high school for the same reasons… Now there’s the pasty-faced goth metal of Deadsy, who have re-imagined the music as a soundtrack to New Hollywood’s excess and cheekbones. You can almost see the tags on the underwear of the starry-eyed models who will gape with thousand-eyed stares as Deadsy sweeps onward with their threshing oar.
The Los Angeles-based quintet has found its way to Dreamworks and a leadoff single, “Keys to Gramercy Park,” which features Korn’s Jonathan Davis (also a Deadsy mentor) on backing vocals. They’ll be touring this summer with Davis’ band, as well as this year’s winner of the Please Leave Us The Fuck Alone Award, Puddle of Mudd. As part of its decadent schoolboy shtick, Deadsy employs a complicated belief system/manifesto; it involves many enormous words, pseudonyms for each of its five members, and is boring in the manner of an elaborate boarding school prank, so click here if you’re interested. And here’s a Deadsy health and safety tip: Lead Deadsy brain is Elijah Blue/”P. Exeter Blue”, the exotic offspring of Cher and Greg Allman.
What would your band sound like if you were Cher and Greg Allman’s kid? One listen to Deadsy’s Commencement, and it’s pretty clear that Blue and his den of thieves took the tramps as their groupies and cooked the gypsies in a stew. Deadsy sounds like “The Grand Illusion” at 78rpms, Daniel Ash fronting Children of Bodom, or the music that’s made when the only guy in the band who has a truck/practice space/rich parents/extra girlfriends/________ happens to play a synthesizer and have an Aleister Crowley fixation.
The formula is simple. And it works. Barely.
While his vocal delivery vacillates between Bowie, Murder, Inc.’s Chris Connelly, and various fey English singers of the 1980s, Blue delivers wordy tales with spooky themes that reflect his fascination with Crowley. This all takes place over a beta test of baroque, sludgy guitar and preening synth lines that would be as hokey as Deadsy’s kooky manifesto if the keys didn’t sketch out just the right melody for the job. The album’s first five tracks are particularly strong; Deadsy even includes a ballsy cover of Sebadoh’s “Brand New Love,” somehow exhuming a new form of rock from a slow, acoustic song that was already rocked out by Superchunk over ten years ago.
If this is all sounding very Blue Oyster Cult, you’re not too far off. But think about it. Isn’t “Don’t Fear The Reaper” a great song? Clunking dark world imagery grafted onto the classic suburban Romeo and Juliet theme? That’s gold! The song’s boiling instrumental midsection always reminds me of that Tom & Jerry episode where Tom is being fried by the devil in a huge skillet. And the guitar fades back in, the curtains blew and then he appeared…the Greg Kihn band was right: They just don’t write ’em like that anymore. Which makes it even better that Deadsy does. Kind of. There’s too much of Korn and Orgy in Deady’s Cain and Abel. But nevertheless, their decadent turn on glowering synth metal is admirable, and even a little fun in a headphones-only sort of way. Let’s be honest. How long has it been since changelings, ghost ships, and other mythological hickamajaw have received lyrical shout-outs? Blue and his droogs even build the hook to “Gramercy Park” around a creed: “Revenge of the Hittites!” At press time, this was the only mention of the ancient Mesopotamian culture in the history of pop music. All this by a celebrity/rocker no less? I’ll tell you what: Keanu Reeves is scratching his head.
Last year in a Vanity Fair article about the children of the stars, Blue waxed macabre about Deadsy’s sound and fury. He referred to his music as “undercore,” which could either suggest the occult themes in Blue’s lyrics or some kind of bare essentials-worshipping music scene. Commencement doesn’t crush you like Blue has said his music will. But it’s a perfectly serviceable amalgam of some of rock music’s less traveled forks. It’s nice to hear the synthesizer married to the chugga-chugga of heavy metal guitar, and not wake up screaming because you realize you’ve become a Dream Theater fan. And it’s okay to embrace your inner dungeon master every now and again. but if you start carrying around 20-sided dice in a little bag, we’re going to kick your ass.