Finally back on a steady tear with their writing, Toronto’s Death From Above (now free of their 1979) isn’t sticking to their classic garage sound. Going deeper into the world of pop than they ever have on their latest effort, they bring their catchy melodies to amazing new places. Mixing this pop edge with a hefty dose of their grinding rock, they’re at their best when they lean into each side. While it may not be as memorable as their previous records, this one still proves Death From Above’s reunion was worth it.
“Nomad” tears the album open with all the fury you’d expect from the duo, distorted and with catchy riffs flying off amazingly. Lighting a fire in the verses the chorus feels like explosives going off between the heavy bass and thunderous drums, and their cutting moments in between these choruses are all the sweeter with the energy behind it. Feeling a lot more electronically infused, “Freeze Me” is a much more shriek heavy affair that charges forward with more of a driving beat. Lyrically blending love song tropes with a sense of dangerous love, the track is a vicious pop cut for the band that feels perfect in their discography.
Chopping up their groove a little on “Caught Up” they make a much more vocally ecstatic track that really leans into its beat more. The touches of percussion are on point here and the play between the drums and vocals make for one of Death From Above’s most fun tracks melodically in a while. With overwhelming, purring bass, “Outrage! Is Now” crawls along before its crashing choruses come down loud and proud. While the track is sonically gripping and has its moments, it does suffer from its overall lack of flow.
“Never Swim Alone” is shockingly sparsely produced track for the band, taking an abrasive pop approach to the sound with a hefty dose of commentary on culture. Through a dynamic riff that emulates the Mario “Underground Theme” to great effect, the steady hits of the vocal lines make for a track that will be a banger live. Shredding with vigor on “Moonlight” they make an eerie mood between the weird syncopation and haunting vocals. While the tumbling pre-choruses are a trip in themselves the whole track does end up feeling a little anti-climactic.
Going on a stop and go dynamic in “Statues” there’s nothing new going on and the more spaced out production doesn’t help. While actually carrying one of the band’s better vocal hooks in a while through clever metaphors, the track struggles to keep an edge going. “All I C Is U & Me” takes a surprisingly pop punk approach to their sound sounding like Blink-182 in their racing but notably heavy riff lines. Overtly catchy and fun, it is definitely an exciting track to listen to regardless if you think it’s a little too pop for them.
“NVR 4EVR” cranks back up the darkness for some heavy metal grime, as Grainger’s shrieking is at its height and his drumming hits its sharp balance between a steady base and pointed licks of his own. In burning moments filled with harmonies and as dense a sound as they’ve had in years, they really take each chorus to its most demented end. Closing on the evil sounds of “Holy Books” the album closes on a melodically rich ride down their verses with Grainger tumbling powerfully into each pre-chorus. The final bridge goes into an explorative and moody moment before coming back to the album’s last overbearing chorus.
Words by Owen Maxwell