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Friday, June 15, 2012

Dead Poetic -- New Medicines

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8/10

Dead Poetic's sophomore album, New Medicines, is a step up from their debut in every way. It's clear by simply listening to the opening trio of songs just how much Dead Poetic have grown in two years.
The hard-rocking "Taste the Red Hands" kicks off New Medicines with an energy and attitude completely absent from their previous work.  The chorus is catchier, the production is more full, and the tempo, snappier. "The Dream Club Murders" adds a little atmosphere to the album.  As Brandon Rike sings, "So sleep child, no one can touch you now, no one can hurt you now, not here, anymore...", a lead guitar with a distorted chorus effect comes in to outro the song--probably the most comforting sound someone born in the 80's can hear.  The title track follows, a big, anthemic, stop-start rhythmed track that is infectiously enjoyable.
From here, the album flows rather nicely to the seventh track, "Glass in the Trees." It is at this point that Dead Poetic really show what they can do.

"Glass in the Trees" is a brooding, building song.  The verses are great, and the chorus is great, but after it gives the listener both, twice, it has really only started.  As the music pulls back, Rike belts out "Slow down" and the song turns into a moving passage that seems to be simply building back to the chorus.  It isn't. As Rike sings, "We'll wait for you to come back home," the song breaks into a more intense, more high energy passage, until Rike sings "I'm just reading the lines they gave me from the pulpit," after which the song completely erupts into passionate screams and crashing drums.  It's a pretty stunning piece of work.
Speaking of screaming, Rike certainly doesn't do it as much here as on the debut album. When Rike does scream, it is often the natural thing to do at that particular moment in a song.  However, there are a few times screaming is clearly the last thing Rike wants to do--it seems he is only screaming at those moments to please Dead Poetic's fan-base.  As I said, it only happens a few times, but it is fairly noticeable.  It's only a small mark against a very good album.
I see that at the end of 2004, I gave this album an okay write-up on The Nicsperiment but complained about the lyrics.  I must have had some sort of ax to grind then that I can't remember now.  The lyrics aren't Leonard Cohen, and what Brandon Rike is trying to say isn't always clear, but they certainly aren't bad. They are far better and more thoughtful than what one often gets in this genre.
Speaking of genre, I feel like I really undervalued this band when they were active.  As I see the direction popular heavy music has taken (i.e. over polished, cookie-cutter, breakdown-centric crap), I now realize that Dead Poetic was actually quite a treasure. I do remember comparing Dead Poetic to Underoath (who at the time had just released They're Only Chasing Safety) in 2004, and saying that Dead Poetic was more grown-up, natural music, while Underoath was poppier, and trendier.  I was probably right at the time, but two years later, both bands would be releasing their magnum opuses and making anything I said about them in the year of W's re-election a mute point

2004 SolidState Records/Tooth & Nail Records
1. Taste the Red Hands 2:58
2. The Dream Club Murders 3:49
3. New Medicines 4:01
4. Vanus Empty 3:55
5. Bury the Difference 3:33
6. Molotov 3:46
7. Glass in the Trees 5:01
8. Dimmer Light 4:06
9. Hostages 3:22
10. Modern Morbid Prophecies 3:52
11. A Hoax to Live For 10:08

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