01. Virus Jones
02. State of Decay
03. Falling Skywards
05. You Left Me Dead
06. Brutal Romance
10. Bizarro World
11. Paranoia Extravaganza
Oh, Deadlock, how do I describe the relationship we have? You continually give me reasons to dislike you, but then you give me reasons to like you. When will the fence riding stop? From Earth.Revolt to Manifesto, German modern melo-death 6 pack (all right that was lame) have given me chills, but gags as well. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Bizarro World, the band’s 5th release in a rollercoaster career, fails to change my mind.
At first glimpse, the album seemingly has hope. Looking at the title of the album and the song names should give you a good indication that this album does not feature the animal rights slacktivism they have come to be known for in the lyrical side of things. That right there drew a huge smile across my face. While I can’t endorse the new lyrical direction (that is, relating the DC comics universe) as much as I can some pseudo-intellectual babble about mysticism (see Decrepit Birth), it’s definitely a step up. With a change in lyrical content, I had come to the assumption that this album might not be plagued by the inconsistencies of the past. Kind of like an intervention or a cleansing. But here we are again, going up and down. I swear I’ve been here before.
That’s because I have. Bizarro World provides nothing new or original or even so much as a stray from the band’s previous work. But hey, who needs innovation when you have execution, right (yes I stand by the statement – I’ll take execution over originality)? Right! However, Deadlock doesn’t execute. For starters, Johannes Prem, the male vocalist on growling duty, has failed to stand above the rest or even render himself recognizable once again. Save for the verses of “Virus Jones” and “Htrae” (more on this song later), his performance feels hollow and contrived. I mean really: how many people would rather hear Sabine Weniger (who is not only a phenomenal singer, but quite sexy) take full time duties? I would, but then a predicament would occur: her voice doesn’t sit well with the aggressive elements (in my opinion, obviously). This is where I come to my point: the music here is fundamentally flawed with the current band members. You take Johannes to fit the “death metal” sections (huge emphasis on the quotation marks) or you remove him and have empty space that makes no sense with the way the songs are written. It’s a lose/lose situation.
This leads me to another issue: the songwriting is so very predictable. Disregarding gimmicks, you know there’s gonna be “death metal” verses and a Sabine-driven chorus that is bright, airy and elegant (“Falling Skywards”) or melodic rock (“Earthlings”). Sure, “Renegade” disguises its typicality with horrible gimmick-y synths and a drum & bass verse (no, not the electronic genre. I mean this literally – sorry all you genre-fusion lovers), but for the most part songs just go along with upbeat drumming and chords before resulting in said Sabine-driven choruses. Take Soilwork’s The Panic Broadcast for example. It executed generic structure well enough to be a great release. This, on the other hand, fails to do so more often than not.
Lastly, there’s pacing issues. The album throws a truckload of tracks at you (varying in a good & bad pattern) then gives you some some breathing room with “Alienation”. Then there’s “Renegade” which is just an abomination I’m trying to forget about with therapy. And then, fellow readers, there’s “Htrae”. If you were reading along with extreme butthurt growing at my negativity, let yourself find solace in the fact that “Htrae” is, without a single doubt in the entire universe, the best Deadlock song ever written. Ever. I know, I know, you’re going to be saying “Gein, you’ve done nothing but pan how much the songs aren’t very good so that’s not saying much!” True, I can’t deny that, but this is on a completely different level for this band. Sure, “Virus Jones” is great and “Falling Skywards” is good, but “Htrae” is just a masterpiece for this band. The song opens with a bunch of crashes and lingering notes before transitioning to a minute or so of good metal. However, this section only serves one purpose to me and that is its build up to the climax of the song. The last minute consists of foot-tapping drumming, a bright power chord lead and Sabine delivering her best vocal work to date. It’s the best moment on the album by a fucking light year. Bizarro World then finishes with an orchestral track and a piano-driven vocal performance by Sabine. I believe the album should have ended with “Htrae” because the ending is so much more climatic and epic. Srsly. It’s odd that the album doesn’t finish there.
And so I come back to my original rhetorical question: what am I supposed to think of this band? I know they’re capable of writing good songs, but they just never do it consistently. Despite the harsh criticism I’ve given this album, it’s so fucking hard to give it a terrible rating. The production is top-notch (neutralizing issues from the last three records), the animal rights bullshit is gone and Sabine sounds better than she ever has. And of course “Htrae”, but besides these pros, Bizarro World isn’t very good. I would completely dig replacing the male vocalist or removing him and adjusting the song structure whilst increasing the technical proficiency to fit female vocals, but I can’t imagine that happening. This album to me is Sabine World and nothing more. It’s the main reason I come back to this album.
If you’re not a fan of the band, this album might not be the one to change your mind. It breaks no new ground or barriers. It’s more of the same and if you’re into Deadlock you will probably enjoy this release. Unless you’re completely sick of the band being formulaic and predictable. In any case, the tracks I highlighted are definitely worth giving a go.
Deadlock: a consistent inconsistency. What a shame.
Deadlock – Bizarro World gets…