Dead Asylum – Death Always Wins (2017)

Even though they’re considered death/thrash according to Metal Archives, this sophmore album from the Canadian quartet sounds more like a mix of modern metal and some of it’s more old-school roots. I bring to mind acts like Daath, Chimaira, Lamb Of God and Deathchain albeit with a bit more color. It is the kind of record where frontman/rhythm guitarist Mike Lister’s hefty growls nearly drown everything else out, making his vocal element sound very aggressive in a Phil Anselmo kind of manner that feels like a veritable fist to the face. That being said, there’s still quite a bit of technicality and melody to be had when you can discern it, even though the band seems about as simplistic enough in force and approach to jump on Sirius XM tomorrow. This is the kind of stuff that appeals to the modern metalhead, and I’m not going to lie that I’m jamming the shit out of it myself. Dead Asylum know what kind of metal act they want to be, as the record fills with heavy groove and almost feels like that of a groove/death disc. I love this style of aggression, so of course I’m going to love this album too. I’m not going to say that the approach here is the best thing since sliced bread in heavy metal terms, but if you’re looking to get rid of some aggression, this will work for you. Best of all, Lister has to be heaving the time of his life up there. I remember when I recorded some vocals on our first disc for a groove/death portion (which isn’t very common for us, but we have a few more pieces like that on the new one that I’m really excited about) and more or less went off, because you can be overly brutal and dirty for the hell of it – kind of like when you record for brutal death metal, which is also fun. Yeah, I said it – making this kind of aggressive music is fun and you should try it if you ever get the chance.

In any case, something needs to be said about Eric Morrison’s guitar skills when you do get the chance to hear them, he’s clearly trying to sprinkle a little bit of class onto this hodgepodge of dirt and aggression, which as you might expect only helps to accentuate the main performance as a whole. The composition in “Forgotten Sacrifice” actually reminds me of the kind of music we played in Unholy Sacrifice which never took off, but was also a hell of a lot of fun to play in. Morrison also gets to play a couple of solos too, which helps. Let’s see, who did I forget? Oh, the band have a secondary vocalist in bassist Roger Mowat, who uses that screechy vocal style similar to what I used in Unholy Sacrifice here. When I was playing with those guys, they wanted me to go into a style more like Lister’s growl, but at the time I was a bit more tight-laced then I am now and wanted to kind of mix modern metal with black metal, even though I see now that it wasn’t really the best approach to take in that kind of band. It’s funny that I’m talking about old projects, but it’s very rare that I’m handed a disc that reminds me so much of what I used to play and some of the other bands around that time that were playing this style. This was a bit before deathcore had really become popular and feels like one of those 07’/’08 discs that might have come out around the age of emo and the very birth of deathcore and what we consider modern extreme metal.

One more thing I should mention is that the band has a chick drummer – or Samantha Landa (as she’d probably prefer, sure beats the hell out of “chick drummer”) who also used to play drums in Scythia. I’m sure you know who they are, because we’ve reviewed them a few times before. Her performance here is everything that it should be, especially when you’ve got a product that is all about pounding your face to the ground in the way that groove/death should. Yeah, there’s a hell of a lot of Lamb Of God influence here but you should know that myself and Bleak Bill are both fans of that style, so we’re not going to bitch about it. As a matter of fact, AXS TV played a full Lamb Of God set one time and I wasn’t even complaining. Hell, for the amount of money I pay for Satellite, they ought to have metal concerts on that son of a bitch 24/7. But that’s a rant for another time.

The last cut here I found particularly entertaining, as it comes off like the true death/thrash that Metal Archives mentioned from their debut ’13 album, General Carnage (is that a reference to the Genesis title, General Chaos? Because that game was awesome and still holds up today. Apparently Sega is porting all of their titles to android, so go check it out for a few bucks) and more or less features the band playing what feels like a The Crowned style approach with a bit more Slayer influence in the riffing, almost like a sort of deathier tribute to Slayer. I’m not going to turn it down though. As a matter of fact, I’m not going to turn anything down on this very solid groove/death/thrash/melodic and whatever else you want to call it record that I’m going to be going back to for a while. It reminds me of the kind of music I used to make with a full band before my back injuries, when I would jump on our makeshift stage and belt my guts out through a bass amp. Those were good days and this band gives me quite a rush of nostalgia. It’s fun to listen to, so if anyone tells you that metal is the devil’s music and makes you become some kind of evil monster (although a Zoanoid style would be nice, especially since you can go back and forth from human to monster form – I’d love that) and just go around and slaughter people and cats (hopefully not) or something, you can just tell them to fuck off and get with the times. Dead Asylum aim to do exactly what you’d expect, delivering a just plain good performance that should appeal to most modern listeners. So load up a game of General Chaos with your best friend and blast this album (it deserves to be blasted) while you drink, party and have a good time. Life is short, and as the album states; death always wins in the end.

(8 Tracks 31:00)



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