With the Dead – With the Dead (Rise Above)Sunday, 18th October 2015
What you’d get if you mashed-up Cathedral and vintage Electric Wizard supposedly, With the Dead features former Cathedral howler Lee Dorrian, along with ex-Electric Wizard-men Tim Bagshaw (guitars/bass) and Mark Greening (drums). It’s a union that surely has the volume-heavy doom purists salivating, not to mention the whole lovely little sidebar between Dorrian and current EW main dude Jus Oborn, who bashed the Rise Above-leading Dorrian in the press. Revenge, or just good-timin’, the band’s six-song debut does exactly what you’d think it would do, but not much else.
Frankly, Dorrian has always sounded better to these ears when he’s paired up with more rollicking, happening riffs, ala Cathedral’s brilliant The Ethereal Mirror album from 1993. He’s a better singer than people give him credit for, but since he’s so accustomed to mucking it up with trod and plod riffs, his voice turns into a one-dimensional bark; no real inflection or cadence, which can be a bit trying during the wide-open portions of “The Cross,” where Greening gives his toms some work. There’s no subtlety or nuance to the guitars either, it’s all on ten, pick out the chord shapes where you can find ‘em, and let the heaviness do the heavy lifting, ala “Living with the Dead,” the album’s prime lurcher.
Hats off to this trio for wanting to push the envelope in respect to their old bands. There’s nothing new to rummage through here, though. With the Dead’s debut succeeds in keeping Dorrian active (which is a good thing), the pair of Bagshaw and Greening in the same boat, yet there’s something a bit off about the whole thing. There’s nary an inspiring moment, just a throw-it-down doom album from a bunch of guys who know better, and have done much better, too.