(We Empty Rooms)

01. The Carcass Is Dry
02. Couldn't Keep His Mouth Shut
03. UP!
04. Murder Hollow
05. Bed Bugs
06. Inherit the Wind
07. Lego Men

RATING: 7/10

What 400 BLOWS managed to produce with their sparse facilities is the stuff of punk legend. Now comes an Australian two-man-gang calling themselves DEAD. A bass and a drum kit. That's as bare bones as its gets. Simplification to an equation so easy only a complete idiot could screw it up. Thus you have the smarmy title of DEAD's seven-song chunkblower. These guys are hardly idiots, but for certain their raw tomfoolery is going to appeal only to a small demographic.

In Croatia, there's a similar outfit calling themselves ONLY BASS AND DRUM or OBAD, but for our purposes here, DEAD's crude scheme delivers exactly what you might expect from a couple of doom-loving crunk-punks. Jace (bass/vocals) and Jem (drums/vocals) are a couple of loony cellar dwellers on "Idiots", bookending a center section of half-crawling and half-sprinting jams, shot largely from the hip, with longer pieces ("The Carcass is Dry" and "Lego Men") that boast more elaborate songwriting theory. The addition of guest slide bassist Tommy Forshaw on "The Carcass is Dry" and "Inherit the Wind" helps align DEAD's loose cannons, but overall, "Idiots" is the sound of how mashed potatoes were likely done before industrialized society refined the process.

"Couldn't Keep His Mouth Shut" is so primitive and so nutty its bobbing groove and horribly-screamed vocals are hard to take seriously until the later segments where Jace accelerates his strumming for a moment before the duo sends the track home on a ransacking shuffle beat. Afterwards, "UP!" and "Murder Hollow" pound away to such numbing effects it's tempting to bow out from the rest of the trip. Linda J. Dacio's somber chants on the painfully creepy "Murder Hollow" grow downright terrifying with some of the most unnerving satanic emissions you'll hear this side of Pazazu's downwind.

While structurally sloppier than sex in a mud bog, the uppity "Bed Bugs" allows Jace to belly-bust his bass with all sorts of sick pummeling lines while Jem forgets about conventional fills altogether and simply lets things rip. "Inherit the Wind" at least has more glue and Tommy Forshaw's slide bass has a lot to do with it. As if keeping Jace and Jem on-point by his mere presence, everything is more compact and steadfast. Without Forshaw, the reckless tempo might've unhinged Jem and Jace as they are on "Beg Bugs". For good measure, the screeching distortion at the end of "Inherit the Wind" delivers one of the more white-knuckled parts on the album.

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The eleven-minute-plus "Lego Men" takes its time to establish a methodic march without petering out along the way. Instead of yelling at these dudes to cut to the chase, you're falling into "Lego Men"'s chowderhead groove and then busting a gut at the offshoot chorus "Little Lego Men!" If you're a parent, you'll obviously get more out of that empowering roar as much as you'll feel the urge to set up your kids' Lego brigade and stomp them to obliteration in time to DEAD's goofy trudge. The bass grows thicker in concentration, particularly when Jem bows out for a long spell and lets Jace maintain the sludgy rhythm almost to the end. The execution of "Lego Men" seems so elementary, yet fundamentally it becomes idiot savant, if you'll pardon the pun.

Suffice it to say, this is one weird ride.


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