Love Songs From The Abyss

Dread Motif

Independent release, 1997

http://myspace.com/dreadmotif1

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/18/1997

One of the most difficult things any new band has to do is try to set themselves apart from others in the same genre. Some are successful, others fail miserably. I have heard far too many demos in all my time reviewing music that fell way short of the mark.

The ones that truly intrigue me are those that refuse to allow themselves to be pigeonholed into any specific genre. Such is the case with the New Jersey-based band Dread Motif; their mini-album Love Songs From The Abyss does not neatly fit into any specific musical category. What is interesting is that this both helps and hurts them.

The four-piece band is led by vocalist David Emmets, whose accent (which I can't place) adds to the mystique of the band. Guitarist Pierre is more of a minimalistic player; he's not afraid to show off his chops, but he seems more interested in guitar for the band's sake. Bassist Ken Hudak occasionally pops his head through the mix; I would have preferred to hear him a little more. And while drummer Scott Vicari shows he is a capable player, I didn't think there was quite enough snap in the drums in the mix.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This isn't meant as a criticism of the production job by the band; actually, the quality of this recording impressed me to no ends. But when you're raising the energy levels to new highs like on "Nothing Is Forever," that extra kick may be what separates the song from the others.

The album opens up strongly with "I Hate Her So Much," which I would have to call a fusion between hard rock and The Cure. In fact, much of the album could be classified like this, due to the pulsing beats throughout the five songs and the often downward-looking lyrics. While you can't help but reflect on a lyric like "I hate her so much / It makes me live", you also have to appreciate the fact that the band can be artsy without taking it over the top.

True, they come close on "She Draws Pictures Of The Devil In Me," but the strength of the track helps Dread Motif overcome this potential slip. And they briefly slip once on "Distortion Clouds My Mind" when describing the regrets of not performing, aaah, a "human function" in space. However, the songwriting and performance helps Dread Motif rise from these brief gaffes.

There are two weaknesses I can find with Love Songs From The Abyss. First, like many demos I receive, it's far too short. When I am getting to know a band, I would prefer to have as many tracks available to base a judgment on as if I were listening to an established act. And while I appreciate the fact that bands like Dread Motif are starting out and money may be tight, it would be nice to be able to pronounce judgment based on more than five songs.

Second, more often than not, it's very hard to follow a true rhythm track on the disc. There's no question that these indiviiduals are talented musicians, but I do admit to liking a rhythm track that I can hear as well as tap my foot to. Vicari needs to explore his hi-hat cymbals a little more often, and Hudak needs to be brought out in the mix a little more. This point, however, is just a personal preference.

Love Songs From The Abyss is a short listen - at just over 16 minutes, you'll just have gotten settled in your comfy chair by the time it ends. However, Emmets and crew successfully carve out their own niche and genre in such a short time. It makes me look forward to hearing what these guys can do on a full-length disc.

The band may not neatly fit into any radio station format, but they don't seem to mind. Maybe for that reason, we all could be a little better off.

Rating: B

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© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.