Speakers for the Dead, Prey for Murder

Speakers for the Dead, Prey for Murder

If you spend part of your day playing the washboard or attending Bible studies, you should probably drop this CD and run. Unless you are into death metal or ominous portents of the second coming, you may not want to give this CD a spin. I was a bit surprised, because I’d heard Speakers for the Dead described as “melodic hardcore,” and while parts of it are in that category, the majority of the album would most likely fall under death metal. I am not a death metal fan. That said, I could appreciate Prey for Murder for its texture and talent.

The first song on the album, ironically named “Finally,” provides a rich, layered feel, with a sure steel-toed metal kick. Guitarist Jason Garcia has skills. Not even brain and lung cancer could keep this axe-slinger from playing and touring with the band. His six-string talent provides much of the depth and melody, and he confidently swings from pendulous rhythm into machine gun harmonics.

By the time you hear the second song, “Far,” you realize that the album is more or less a “Revelations”-type album. The heavy, rapid-fire kick drums provide the heavy metal stomp, while vocalist Curtis Shamlin chimes in with dissonant growling and hollow crooning (a little reminiscent of Maynard Keenan). Finally, bassist Rob Slocum turns in a solid effort and provides a thick backbone for the songs to stand on.

While Shamlin does give melody to the songs, he is nonetheless trapped in a death metal box of sound. His voice contains a lot of good energy, but lyrically the songs don’t expand on his feelings beyond the monosyllabic screaming. For example, one verse propounds “I am not God / I am just me.” To me this almost sounds like caveman-speak, but when you get listen to death metal you shouldn’t expect Walt Whitman. I’m guessing the average metalhead could appreciate the arcane simplicity and violence in the lyrics, but sadly, I am not death metal — I am just me.

There are times when the album breaks the fetters of metal, however. “Longway” contains slow trance-like breaks with eerie echoes, and I believe I heard soft bongos tapping in the background. On the other hand, I almost flung the CD out of my computer, burned it, and said a “Hail Mary” when I heard “About to Fall.” It sounded like Lucifer was singing the opening verse after drinking a liver full of bile.

All in all, the album is exploding with aggression and energy that any true death metal fan should enjoy, though music listeners outside of this music genre may feel out of place and a little scared. It would be a nice soundtrack, say, if the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse were racking up a body count in my neighborhood. Prey for Murder is a talented, head-banging album. If you’re into the death metal scene, I’d recommend it; otherwise, proceed with caution.

(Magna Carta Records -- 280 E. 51st St., PMB#1820, New York, NY. 10022-6500; http://www.magnacarta.net/; Speakers for the Dead -- http://www.speakersforthedeadmusic.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Wednesday, July 26th, 2006. Filed under Reviews.

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