Deadlock: Bizarro World

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Deadlock: Bizarro World
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Deadlock: Bizarro World
Melodic Death Metal
Lifeforce Records
March 15, 2011
Release length: 37:17
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Deadlock has always been sort of a guilty pleasure of mine, being one of those bands that I can’t stand as a critic, but absolutely love and get pumped by many of their songs, though never an entire CD, on a personal level. Meerly mentioning the group has a new album due out is enough to whip me into a frenzy because I know, no matter what, there’s going to be a decent number of tracks that simply kick ass and eventually blow out my car’s speakers, speeding down the road at insane speeds. Given the band’s last effort, Manifesto, simply not being a great album at all with very few interesting tracks, coming off as big a disappointment as Earth.Revolt, it was time for Deadlock to come back and make up for lost ground and time. Enter Bizarro World, and album title that DC Comics fans will know the origins of, and Sealab 20201 fans will crack up laughing at the moment the world “bizarro” comes into eyesight. However, this release is far from anything to laugh at, and, while still retaining some of the issues that plagued previous albums, including their most known release Wolves, this is another album of solid Melodic Death Metal with enough tracks worth being pumped over.

Right off the bat, the band’s single, “Virus Jones”, hammers away in the same vein as Wolves. The song is very heavy and features a great male gutteral vocal performance that acts as part of a duet with the beautiful female singing vocals that have quickly become the band’s staple. The song just hammers away with heaviness and beautyu, much in the vein of the band’s single “Code of Honor”. In fact, it’s the exact same set up. Perhaps this is where the “bizarro” aspect of the title comes into play, a mirror image of something, and that something is the band’s previous hit single. Even though the song is far from original, it’s still packed with enough energy to send the listener into a frenzy, and will quickly become a favorite off this recording, even though the rest really does take on a more original sound and approach for this release, coming off more stylish then before, but more in a Noire way through the keyboards industrials and overall atmosphere.

Not all songs on this release are actually heavy. The following song “State of Decay” is a softer track that shows off the stunning vocal range of the band’s female vocalist and keyboardist, while “Renegade” takes that same kind of approach, mixes it with heavier material, and the band’s signature Techno material. Sadly, these Techno elements are where the band seems to drop the ball slightly, having a few feel forced, such as the longer Techno breakdown into random instrumental passage that really serves no purpose in the song other then to eat up time and feed into those who enjoy that style, and enjoy it mixed with their Metal. Of course, the heavier and faster tracks on here are really where the band shines through, but again the problem that has come to face the band in recent times is including their female vocalist, and it’s practically every track. While the male vocals have come a long way since their earlier material, being more gutteral then a cheap At the Gates knock-off, the clean singing vocals appear mostly in the chorus of a song, giving a predictable pattern to plenty of the songs, and in many ways they aren’t even needed as the gutterals will gladly suffice. Sure on “Virus Jones” and “Brutal Romance”, it really adds more to the song, and given the design of “Renegade”, it’s almost inescapable. However “Falling Skywards” just feels repetitive of “Virus Jones”, but more forced into the female vocals, as well as a number of other tracks on here. The song probably would have benefitted more from being a solid Melodic Death Metal track without having to slow down and beautify the chorus to incorporate some female leads. The same can be said for “Earthlings”, which feels like it was meant to have a simpler lyrical structure with gutteral vocals, but again, finds the female clean vocals, though the song retains the heavier edge and doesn’t break into a softer section, and ultimately just sounds rather generic.

But even with these issues, there’s plenty of great songs here that will get your blood pumping. “Earthlings” comes off generic and uninspired, but it’s still enjoyable for the first few spins before it starts to get old quick. “Virus Jones” feels like a carbon copy, but it’s still one of the strongest tracks on the recording and will also have your blood pumping from start to end. “Brutal Romance” offers up a nice mixture of the band’s Techno elements, which adds a heavier impact to the already heavy music without busting into a full blown Techno dance section, and the chorus features clean singing that is well done, and doesn’t quite seem forced, but still feels like they had to alter the music of the chorus slightly to accomodate her. Either way, this track also stands as one of the more impressive releases of the album. “Alienation” and “Bizarro World” add to the atmosphere of the recording, coming off as most Industrialized instrumental tracks, but they really won’t do much to make a lasting impression, and after the first or second time though you’ll be skipping them, but on a first spin are worth checking out.

Again, from a critical stand point, this album isn’t the greatest. It has some fantastic tracks throughout, but not every track is gold. There’s plenty of slower, more ballad-oriented tracks geared at showing off the range of the female vocalist, which is what this band seems to be all about anymore. Amindst such a depressing move, the music does manage to offer up a good amount of variety, and some tracks are rather memorable, though patterned, sound as if an old single remade, or just have a randomly tacked on chorus to suit the clean vocals, or random Techno passage. But, from a personal level, the album is rather enjoyable for it’s energy, though a good amount is lacking due to the forced sections mentioned above. The atmosphere to the recording is great no matter how you look at it, and the stylish approach really suits the band nicely. It’s annoying to see this Melodic Death Metal band give so much time to a recently inducted member, more then likely only to appease the fans, but that’s not saying she doesn’t deserve all that time. This band is still a Metal act, and all the softer, slower, even ballad passages really do take away from the energy this band can put out on a CD. Until the group can drop the cliche issues, and find a way to work the clean female vocals in without it being every song in pretty much the same manner, or just having her do the entire song herself, this band will be held back by one of the most important aspects of the group, which really needs to be taken into considering as a piece of the group’s unity, not the only piece of the group. Either way, Bizarro World isn’t really a must buy release, but it’s well worth checking out.

01. Virus Jones – 4:59
02. State of Decay – 3:43
03. Falling Skywards – 4:22
04. Earthlings – 3:41
05. You Left Me Dead – 4:11
06. Brutal Romance – 4:08
07. Alienation – 1:42
08. Renegade – 3:25
09. Htrae – 4:48
10. Bizarro World – 2:11
11. Paranoia Extravaganza – 3:08
Overall Score: 7.5/10
Deadlock (band)
Deadlock (logo)Digital review copy of this release provided by Lifeforce Records via Fresno Media.