Ex-Torche guitarist and vocalist Andrew Elstner, and Day Old Man bassist Derek Schulz and drummer Bobby Theberge, wasted zero time in making an impression with their new band Dead Now. Within its five tracks, behind its cosmic sci-fi artwork, lay five tracks that bring thundering riffs, undeniably catchy vocals, excellent musicianship, and production that will make lesser speakers promptly distort and catch fire. Maybe not that last part, but you get the idea – Dead Now is powerful.
Dead Now sounds like a slow version Mastodon fronted by a meatier Brann Dailor who listened to Blue Öyster Cult vinyl on too slow of a speed for far too long whilst possibly on just a little LSD. The trio tunes low but doesn’t quite subscribe to the idea that everything needs to be plodding, downtrodden and sustained for as long as possible. Dead Now breaks out the crunchy, blues-swung riffs on the appropriately-named “Ritchie Blackmourning,” stutters through the behemoth of a track “Bird Leaf,” and positively swings the riff hammer hard as they can on “Powershapes.”
Speaking of “Powershapes,” and besides the devastating chunk of the intro, there’s an honest-to-god cowbell section toward the middle. Not done sarcastically, either. Dead Now decided to straight up conjure the 1970s midway through the song with a stop-and-go-style “‘Carry On My Wayward Son’ drunk off its ass” riff whose time is kept by none other than Will Ferrell himself (presumably).
Not to say that there aren’t sections reliant on droning tones with Elstner’s smooth-as-butter voice acting as the sole melody – there are and it’s beautiful. But this is a far cry from being a one-man show focused on any of the band’s members. Dead Now is a trio. There is zero room for dead weight not contributing exactly one-third of the equation to the best of their ability. Theberge fills the sonic space between Elstner and Schulz right to the brim and lets surface tension hold back the extra he’s giving, while Schulz himself connects the dots on songs like “Brunette,” walking up and down between chord tones to give that extra sense of motion.
Dead Now comes into existence at the crossroads of the modern throwback rock scene and the low-tuned sludge scene. It’s 23 solid minutes of demented classic rock tracks viewed through the lens of someone who grew up on King Crimson and psychedelic rock as much as they did Mastodon, Kylesa, and Cherubs. Dead Now is raucous and loud, but was consciously written to avoid solely relying on “rocking hard” to get by.
Dead Now is something to be blasted. To be paid attention to as individual elements comprising a whole. To get drunk to. To dissect. To piss off the neighbors with. It’s just a damn good debut effort from a band that has a bright future if they keep this up, and whose writing makes up rock songs from extremely well-thought out parts that come off deceptively easy. It’s great. Now go blow out your speakers.