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Deadbird
Twilight Ritual

Company: At A Loss Recordings
Release: 2008
Genre: Sludge, stoner, doom
Reviewer: Etiam

  • Sufficient for modest recommendation, but not for distinction



  • Helmed by the brothers Schaaf (a guitarist and drummer) Deadbird was formed in 2002 in Arkansas. Like nearly every other early '00 metal band from that stretch of the Bible Belt, Deadbird play a very American form of sludge metal where the riffs fuzz, the vocals rasp, the drums sound acoustic, and the ganja is ripe for the toking. Probably. Deadbird count two ex-Rwake members among them--every member has some other playing experience--so their sophomore album 'Twilight Ritual' was sure to be a fully conceived effort without any trace of identity crisis.

    'Twilight Ritual' was mixed by the well-traveled Billy Anderson (Giant Squid, Asunder, Eyehategod, Bongzilla, etc.) and boasts a wonderfully sludgy production with tube crunch for days and ultra-juicy lead tones. To paint a quick portrait for musicians: Deadbird's been known to play through Orange and Sunn amps, and have the kind of guitar players who'll leave their strings unclipped at the headstock. Clearly, Deadbird take plenty of cues from the obvious Southern metal influences, but they also have some strong stoner/doom influences (see: Electric Wizard) that shine through during their harmonized riffs and wandering solos. As is the case with most metal bands, their lyrics stumble into elegance from time to time, but typically consist of heavy Gothic imagery and overwrought symbolism.

    Deadbird's vocal variation, more prominent than on the past record, is perhap's 'Twilight Ritual's greatest selling point and one of its most underutilized features. All of us are quite familiar with the gruff mid-ranged bellow--the standard voice used here--and probably the shouted harmonies as well, such as those Kylesa has turned into a calling card. Deadbird's more impressive offering is the high shriek that occasionally rises to the surface (towards the end of 'Feral Flame', to open 'Death of the Self', etc.) and sounds more akin to black metal than sludge. These accents give the album a seething, emotive punch that is a welcome shakeup in this nearly 50-minute excursion. In fact, the normal lead vocals are used enough to fade into the background after a time, so frequently and monotonously do they appear. Considering that four of the band's members contribute, this is not surprising.

    Also like many of their southern sludge brethren, Deadbird use acoustic guitar to counterbalance their monster fuzz rock. Unlike some others, however, their acoustic element tends to be more isolated--a solitary guitar rather than one layered among many--and frame nicely the ballad portions (e.g. opening of 'The Riverbed') of the album. Many of their distorted riffs simply seem to write themselves, as anyone who's ever fooled around in a simple drop tuning will know (2:45 into 'Death of the Self'). Their riff ideas are generally catchy--a few are really quite good--and fit nicely into the genre's expected mold: chunky power chords in a triple meter that occasional spin off into some pentatonic cadenza noodle. Unfortunately, the extent of their ideas doesn't carry too far, so by the third song we've heard most of what they have to offer. Yes, they can still be fun riffs, but an album this long needs to bring a little more innovation to the table to be completely worthwhile.

    So, by its last leg the moody allure of the first tracks begins to wear to the point of indifference. With a promising first half weighed against the dragging latter, 'Twilight Ritual' falls into a morass where its qualities are sufficient for modest recommendation, but not for distinction. If Deadbird can key in on the balance between acoustic ballads and pit-smashing riff-fests, they will have a marketable niche. But until then, they'll merely be coasting.


    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



    ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: DEADBIRD
    CD
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    Head and the HeartDeadbird
    2004
    Etiam8/11/2004
    Twilight RitualDeadbird
    2008
    Etiam1/7/2010


    ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: DEADBIRD

    No Summary reviews currently exist for them.


    ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: DEADBIRD
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