Deadlights – Mesma
Released: 21st April 2017
Dylan Davidson – Vocals
Tynan Reibelt – Guitar & Vocals
Josh O’Callaghan – Drums
Sean Prior – Bass & Vocals
I put it to you, the reader, that there’s a phenomenon in the world of metal – releases with similar names at a similar time are guaranteed to be heaters.
Proof? September 2015 saw the release of revolutionary UK prog act Tesseract’s third full-length Polaris, which seemingly unanimously received acclaim. Just a couple of months later, Sydney based metalcore group Polaris released The Guilt and the Grief, a 6 track EP which, too, absolutely slapped.
This may only be one example – but we have our second right here – Deadlights’ debut full length, Mesma. With a name almost identical to Northlane’s surprise (and stellar) release Mesmer [Wall of Sound‘s review], the theory now has two solid examples. We know Northlane’s release hit hard, and with Deadlights’ now out, we can say the same.
To set the playing field, Deadlights aren’t completely changing the game. They’re not dropping a new direction totally unheard of, or genre-mashing in some weird, unexpected way. What they are doing, though – is choosing a style, and executing it well. That said, the style is a little hard to describe – think Ocean Grove (who they list as a key influence), only with a drastically increased focus on melodic cleans. Then add in 2% Rage Against the Machine, and you’ll get close.
To say they’re not changing the game is not to say they’re not realising anything quality, or even interesting, however. There’s definitely merit to picking an established style and giving it your all – Architects, A Day to Remember, Lamb of God – the list goes on. Mesma does this in spades. Take a listen to early single ‘Invisible Hands‘, which exhibits the components that I’d argue make up the identity of the entire album – soaring, melodic cleans, brutal, relentless screams, and anthemic, fist pump choruses. I’m not one to pay much attention to lyrics in music (more on that later), but the chorus in this track hit me straight away, and I was emphatically jumping in by the second play – ‘It’s getting hard to reach you, you’re too far-gone…’
Jumping to track 10, ‘The Translator‘, the group drops a song with no screams at all, giving clean vocalists Tynan Reibelt and Rhys Thompson uninhibited chance to exhibit the range possesses, with an equally anthemic feel. The track builds as it progresses – and if things go well, the feeling of a crowd singing along to this track will be shiver inducing. Compare this to ‘Attitude and Longitude‘, which has main vocalist Dylan Davidson dropping almost nu-metal-esque raps across over aggressive, jabbing guitars – before building into the elevating chorus now trademark of a Deadlights song (by way of a brief stop in chuggsville, rest assured).
Earlier I mentioned my lack of affinity (in general) for lyrics in music. Not quite a distaste, more a lack of observation. And when I do, I really have no idea what they mean or awareness of any sort of poetic intent. In short, I was never one to post lyrics to my Myspace or MSN profile. It also has the added advantage of being able to enjoy cheesy lyrics without issue (hellooo, James Labrie).
Track 2 on the album, however, ‘The Mad Scientist‘, grabbed me quickly. It’s one of the most blatant songs about lack of rational thought I’ve ever heard from a metal band (and a reprieve from such is well needed, as someone who lives in Queensland). The first verse reads:
I don’t get the logic / If there’s any at all / So much proof on one side / Yet the battle lingers on / For crying out loud
My initial interpretation of this was climate change, but as the song progresses it seems clear that the band’s intention was a much broader frustration (with destructive mindsets of any kind). Whether or not this kind of writing is of interest to you as a listener, it grabbed me in a way that I’m not used to. Even the hyper-political writings of Enter Shikari (a facet of them I love) took a little while to catch on. It’s an intriguing approach.
The album is definitely 12 good tracks. I would almost go as far as to say it’s 12 great tracks – but by the end of its runtime, there was a small element of fatigue. That could be due to unfamiliarity with the tracks, and at no point was I not enjoying the sounds in my ears, but there was an element of ‘oh, which song was this?’ It’s quite possible that with a couple of listens, though, this would end up as a positive.
Deadlights are about to set off on an Australian tour with influences Belle Haven in early June, and I would recommend doing everything you can to catch them. Having had the privilege of seeing them once (well before the existence of Mesma), I can only imagine their live prowess has improved exponentially. Plus, you get to hear Mesma’s bangers played live.
Deadlights – Mesma tracklisting
- Order Without Order
- The Mad Scientist
- Everything All At Once
- Attitude & Longitude
- Invisible Hands
- Know Hope
- The Translator
- The Shapeshifter
Mesma is Out Now
Review by Michael Parente