Dead Runes hail from Nashville, a place where musicians outnumber the ordinary citizens, the band make a noise they describe as "head-bangable, dynamic, fuzz-drenched rock'n'roll" quantifying that statement by telling us they jam a groove that blends the "frantic anxiety of Mastodon with the chill majestic vibes of The Sword". To find out if your ears agree with Dead Runes self-assessment you will have to give their debut "Raidho" a spin, a task we are quietly confident you will end up thanking us for.
An instrumental piece entitled "Secrets of Mountains" opens proceedings, a majestic blend of blues flecked post-rock guitar noodling and sludgy dank riffage supported by dark toned bass lines and tight solid percussion that then makes way for "Allfathers Path" a galloping heavy rocker that along with its highly impressive strong clean vocals and "Immigrant Song" like rhythms also boasts some searing shredded guitar pyrotechnics. If you have not fell under this bands spell yet then the doom tinted "My Freya" will change all that, its chugging refrains and pounding rhythms twinned with an absolute peach of a vocal melody is on another level especially in its last quarter when things go slightly off piste prior to the songs final verse. "Iron Song" follows next, the songs atmospheric intro of spaced out guitar textures, sparse percussion and hazy echoed vocals is soon shattered by crunching refrains and punchy drumming over which the vocals take on a a more powerful dynamic, things do revert back to the ambient nature of the songs intro but only briefly and its not long before the song pushes to its finish on a wave of deliciously crunchy stoner-like riff'n'roll. Title song "Raidho" is up next and blends elements of prog with post rock, blues and alt-metal to create a groove that is in constant flux but never once loses its flow or its focus, it also boasts both the albums best vocal performance and its best guitar solo. "Different Stars" is probably Dead Runes at their most accessible and boasts a superb vocal backed by a groove with a slightly dialled down hard rock dynamic while "To Hel and Back" finds Dead Runes getting pleasingly angular and off-kilter. Final number "Sea Tripper" finds the band experimenting with textures and colours both musically and vocally, the music part of the equation an undulating blend of stonerized psych, off centred blues and hazy doom, the vocal part mantra-like and slightly monotonic, it is not quite the foot to the floor barnburner you might expect an album of this nature to sign off with but is, despite that, a very impressive curtain closer on a seriously entertaining album.
Dead Runes may think they have a sound that captures essences of Mastodon and The Sword but what we at Desert Psychlist hear is a sound closer to the likes of Elder, All Them Witches and King Buffalo, an intelligent and varied mix of prog- like complexity, lysergic languidity and swaggering heaviness fronted with smooth yet wonderfully powerful vocals.
Check 'em out ....
© 2024 Frazer Jones