Longevity can be a curse and a blessing. Bands that surpass the days of youth in Heavy Metal tend to find themselves in a bind of sorts, especially bands that bloomed in the glory days of Thrash in the late 80s and have now found themselves 20 years older and far into their careers. Do you continue to play like you did in 1989 or do you modernize? It’s a tough choice and we have seen bands that succeed in both realms while retaining their Metal standards.
For DEAD HEAD, it was a choice to modernize and using their talent and great song writing the band has modernized beautifully. They stay true to their Thrash Metal roots the entire time but they throw enough modern twists into the mix to keep the band from feeling too stale. The band then throws it all together on their fifth album “Depression Tank”.
What I enjoyed most about “Depression Tank” is that DEAD HEAD is pure aggression on this album. Reminiscent of some of the great aggressive Thrashers like DESTRUCTION at times, it’s this seething hatred that threads this album together into a massive ball of anger and art. Although it definitely helps that this is a very talented performing band, DEAD HEAD just feeds on this energy and so does the listener. So if sheer intensity tends to run you weary after a few songs then I suggest that this one might be a little too much for you.
Now, it’s not all chaotic fun for these guys, although if you listen to tracks like “Murder” or the opening of “Green Angel” then you might think that. The modern twists and turns are going to throw a new feeling of variety into the mix. The slashing 80s riffs will occasionally take a step back to make way for a bit of Groove inspired work or even some melancholic melodies like on “Nero Dies”. The band intermixes the modern work with the older feeling material quite nicely though and it doesn’t feel like two separate writing styles. Great writing makes the aggression flow freely and it works like a charm for DEAD HEAD.
I’m also going to mention that this is the debut of new vocalist for the band Ralph de Boer, who sounds almost the same as the previous vocalist. So no huge surprises there if you are familiar with the back catalog and he does a great job fitting in with the talented ranks of the band.
If you enjoy the niche of aggressive Thrash Metal then you are going to find something to love on “Depression Tank”. The modern influences create a nice updated sound that blends adequately with their older style. Some older fans are going to find the new material a bit of a bastardization of Thrash, but I found it fresh and invigorating. Definitely worth checking out.
Songs to check out: “Dissolved In Purity”, “Nero Dies”, “Green Angel”.
(Online April 15, 2009)