DEADLOCK
"Bizarro World"

(Lifeforce)

01. Virus Jones
02. State Of Decay
03. Falling Skywards
04. Earthlings
05. You Left Me Dead
06. Brutal Romance
07. Alienation
08. Renegade
09. Htrae
10. Bizarro World
11. Paranoia Extravaganza

RATING: 2.5/10

What happened to this once great band? In 2005 the German act released a magnificent album called "Earth.Revolt" that took convincing Gothenburg melo-death and mixed it up with superb keyboard atmospherics and the enchanting vocals of Sabine Weniger. Its follow-up ("Wolves") didn't reach the same heights but demonstrated some expansion and songwriting consistency. "Earth.Revolt" in particular — at least for that period of time — was proof that there was not only a lot of life left in what some might generally term melodic metalcore, but that a band playing this style could raise their game through compositional depth and catchy songwriting. I recall thinking that 2008's "Manifesto" was a step in the wrong direction, but don't remember much else about it. But time spent with new album "Bizarro World" was painful. The music has become bland, pop-based metalcore, which is disappointing coming from a group that held so much promise. As such, the pain of having to skewer this album is sharper than usual.

The biggest problem with "Bizarro World" doesn't concern poor musicianship or — presumably anyway — lack of effort. The biggest problem is that the typical Americanized AT THE GATES metalcore aggression that is contrasted with shining, Weniger-sung pop melodies on the choruses — constituting the majority of this album — either falls completely flat or comes off irksomely awkward. Coming in close behind is the problem of hooks; there aren't any. As I've noted in the past, cleanly sung chorus melodies do not automatically equate to catchy ones. "Brutal Romance" is an unfortunate case in point. In addition, the manner in which the aggressive verses shift to clean choruses is so abrupt as to seem disconnected. The keyboard/electronic aspects add very little to most tracks and when presented on songs like "State of Decay" and "Falling Skywards" it almost makes things worse. At times an idea seems like it might blossom into something more promising, as is the case with the electronic pop 'n chug of "Renegade" (complete with some soul diva lines from Weniger), but what might otherwise be considered an attempt at something only RAUNCHY has perfected ends up in a state of total collapse.

In fairness, there are songs like "Virus Jones" that while hardly anything to write home about will at least appeal to fans of bands like IN THIS MOMENT. Doesn't seem like much of a consolation prize, does it? Even the interludes (e.g. "Alienation") end up more distracting than is typical. "Bizarro World" just doesn't work and comes off as more of a mess than anything else. I didn't expect DEADLOCK to top what they accomplished on even "Wolves", but in no uncertain terms did I expect them to fall this far. Somewhere along the way the wheels fell off and DEADLOCK ended up in "Bizarro World". A big time disappointment.

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