No, you aren't mistaken. It really is 2014. Why, then, would the date on this album be 2012? There is no shame in showing up to the party late. In the case of Dead Empires, though, we not only arrived fashionably late, but forgot to bring the spinach dip. This isn't a band from across the country, or across the pond in Europe or Australia. Based in the Hudson Valley, which is in all reality our back yard (and front yard), it seems strange to only now have our eyes opened and ears blasted by a three piece instrumental band that both embraces and denounces genre tagging. With a range of styles, and a wealth of intelligent intensity, Waiting In Waves was ahead of its time.
It isn't that the screeching feedback is necessary, but it starts both the album and the track Carl Weathered off in the most fitting way. It signifies the arrival before the landing, the first set of crushing back beats and driving riffs. Atmospheric and at times airy guitar touches trade barbs with clockwork snares, only to erupt time and time again. Rarely do subtlety and crushing distortion go hand in hand, but they do here, like an intense bearded man and his elegantly dressed model girlfriend. In the same way, Ted Dancin, with all of its sound and fury, manages to be so much more than a raucous sludge factory, adding flourishes of melodic post rock elements into what may otherwise be a track of density. Guitarist John Bryan changes the mood of the track with a simple progression, an upbeat ending to a heavy journey.
But it is, fittingly, the title track of the album that best exemplifies what Dead Empires can do. Waiting In Waves is a genre bender on its own, seamlessly shifting from a straight rock & roll assault to one of virtuosic guitar flashes and rolling drums; all before the halfway mark. As quickly as you think you've figured out the formula, the variables change and your speakers are bombarded with double kicks and a massive wall of distorted guitars. As aptly titled as Space Race is, it only tells half the story. The transition from quiet, eerie opening to the cymbal crashing and stomping middle ground is neatly executed. Taking that intelligent design further, Crystal Cages continues to bend, break, and adjust every rule that we think we've needed until now. Light guitar melodies find their way into blasting solos, just as quiet cymbal taps evolve into a sizzle of crashes and snares. It also houses some of the heaviest doom guitars this side of the Mississippi.
For a band that verbally prides themselves on a lack of borders, tracks like Blackout put their money where their metaphorical mouth is. Featuring a guest spot from Adam and Tom of Thank You Scientist (a seven headed progressive beast in their own right), this is fodder for any live show. If the goal is to get heads moving in time and bodies moving together, loomk no further to the bending strings and chugging scattered all over the track, flanked by an eccentric infusion of trumpet and lightly plucked strings. It isn't that they are the first to try a collaboration like this, but that they had the foresight to know how it would turn out. As a closing track Getting Head From A Guillotine, is everything you would want or expect. Bruising, yes, but also wholly satisfying from every musical perspective. When the clock hits the five minute mark, it'll feel as if you are belly up to a stage, watching the end of their set.
What do you do when you get to that big party just a little bit late? Do you make excuses or blame the directions? Not a chance. In this case, it isn't embarrassing to discover Dead Empires three years after their first release; stuff like this happens all the time. but now that they have invaded our periphery and moved into our focus, albums like this one will make it harder to miss them the next time around. With a new track debuted, and a new album moving towards completion, don't be surprised if this is a name that moves away from the "local" tag and into the national spotlight later this year. In the meantime, don't be ashamed to say you missed the boat two years ago. Waiting In Waves isn't an exclusive club. There is always room for one more fan.
Official Site - http://deadempires.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/deadempires
Bandcamp - http://deadempires.bandcamp.com/