Dead Head – Shadow Soul (Hammerheart Records)

Monday, 25th March 2024
Rating: 8.5 / 10

35 years together as a group – it’s quite an achievement given all the twists, turns, and turbulence that can happen on a multitude of fronts. Such is the case now for Dutch band Dead Head – a celebratory atmosphere penetrates the air for this latest record Shadow Soul. The follow-up to a quite sterling, speed-driven outing for 2022’s Slave Driver, the eight tracks showcase more of their versatility in terms of additional classic heavy metal or death angles, yet never wavering in the commitment to the thrash purity that has been everlasting since day one for the group.

Veterans at this style, the necessary diversity when it comes to various tempo shifts track to track maintains a level of headbanging consistency, where even at mid-tempo pacing songs such as “Caverns of Fate” as well as the subsequent shorter instrumental “Defiance” allow the other blitzkrieg riff / full gear drum action that much more dominate abilities to create carnage in the pit. The lead breaks pivot into segments of ripping shred parts next to crazed squeals, taps, or other dive bomb sequences as Ronnie van der Wey and Robbie Woning take an interesting approach to the record – Ronnie appears on your left speaker side, Robbie to the right. Brace for insane hyper riffs next to savage Tom Araya-esque word spew from bassist Ralph de Boer – tracks such as “Litany of the Weak” as well as the face-melter “Opulent Disruption” sure to eliminate the weak, conveying the strength of influences like Slayer, Dark Angel, Sadus, and Demolition Hammer into a European, take no prisoners framework. The work of producer Erwin Hermsen gives Dead Head a volatile crispness that just lodges deep into the body – you can feel the anger rip through the airwaves.

Whether you classify this as an album or EP is up for debate (six full songs + two instrumentals = 27 minutes and change playback value), but in the end Dead Head continually serve up boisterous thrash of a primal variety – and that’s rare at this point in one’s career. Shadow Soul keeps the discography rolling along as excellent as you’d hope for, as consumers patiently await the next offering.

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