Dead Turns Alive – Maelstrom

Dead Turns Alive - Maelstrom

Digital, Vendetta Music, 2010
www.myspace.com/deadturnsalive

Initially I thought this was a new artist, although the name sounded vaguely familiar from somewhere. Helpfully their MySpace page fills in the gaps – a surprisingly long-lived artist that has been around since the late 90s, although this is the first new album from them in eight years.
Musically, things seem somewhat out of time – indeed, some might be as unkind to say that Dead Turns Alive have not moved on since 2002, going on the music here. Melodic synthpop abounds for the highpoints of the album (“The Serpent’s Chant” being the pick of the bunch, and “Someone Had To Die” is pretty great too), while the darker, harder moments (opener “S.I.N.”, x) seem a little half-baked. In fact, where things strike out on a tangent a little come the most intriguing, if not best, moments. “Love Is Lost” is dominated by a great breakbeat, rather unexpected in this mainly 4/4-based company, while “Final Words” is a great construction of thundering, reverb-treated beats and near rapped vocals that works a lot better than the description of it might suggest.
It takes a while to notice, but it’s the lyrics and lyrical themes in particular that are the most fascinating thing about this album. To put no finer point on it, this album seemingly comes from the mind of a committed Christian, who is entirely unafraid to wrap his songs in Christian imagery, and samples of evangelists that in other artists’ work are clearly used in ironic fashion are entirely devoid of it here.
The most obvious pointers towards this are “Someone Had To Die” (apparently glorifying Jesus and his ‘sacrifice’ through crucifixion, if I’m getting it right), while later tracks “Har Meggido” and “Effigy Of Gehenna” are both titles of Hebrew origin, according to a little bit of googling while listening – and more and more clues become clear as you listen a little closer.
Being entirely non-religious myself – and, to be fair, I think most people into this kind of music are – the appearance of a band in the industrial-electro subgenre that are so obviously religious is unusual to say the least. And, I guess, it’s a refreshing change from imagery of death, hate and Armageddon. Oh, wait…
In fact, it’s doubly interesting – as it resides in a genre of music that is more usually criticising religion or entirely ignores it, the piety on display here is pretty much subdued until you actually listen to the album. An understandable decision, perhaps, but I must make the point that this album is perfectly listenable whether you care about the sentiment or not. After all, I also happen to be a fan of quite a lot of Black Metal, and I couldn’t give a toss about Satanism either.
So go in with an open mind, and this album isn’t too bad. Nothing ground-breaking, by any stretch, but perfectly servicable electro-industrial/synthpop that is padded out nicely with a few reasonable remixes. Worth purchasing, but don’t break the bank to do so.

[6/10]

— Adam Williams