The Deathtrip - Deep Drone Master
Svart Records
Black Metal
10 songs (42' 56")
Release year: 2014
Svart Records
Reviewed by Andy

After seeing the rather odd title of The Deathtrip's first LP, Deep Drone Master, I had to double-check for a moment to make sure I was looking at a black metal band. But black metal it is, though they've released many of the songs before -- in fact, at least half of the album consists of previous tracks from demos. The album has major flaws, especially on the vocals, but musically it's actually pretty good.

Unlike many two-man black metal bands, the second member is not the drummer. Instead, guitarist Host plays all the instruments, while vocalist Aldrahn writes the lyrics; I can't tell if they're using a drum machine anymore, which they did on the demos. The guitar and melodies often include a heavily repetitive main riff that the layered guitar tremolo-picks over in a frantic, cacophonous blast, resulting in tracks like Dynamic Underworld and Making Me, outside of the vocals, sounding as if they could easily end up on a Satyricon or Inquisition album. What differentiates them is the melodic, clean approach to the sound and especially the vocals. Most of Flag of Betrayal, the first full-length track, is sung almost cleanly, with very little of the traditional raspy singing common to black metal, and the latter part of Making Me also veers into singing with very little grit to it -- and not, apparently, on purpose.

I'd like to say that kind of singing sounds good -- it's definitely different --, but it really doesn't. When Aldrahn goes into the dramatic sections of his singing, he quickly hams it up a lot more than it needs to be. He has a way of starting a vocal passage with harsh vocals, then moving on to shouting the lyrics as clearly as possible. The production focuses on this cleanliness and melody too, to much better effect than the vocals (clearly, The Deathtrip is not a black metal group that believes in the inherent "purity" of lo-fi recording). And for the music itself, this pays off tremendously. Every twist and turn of Host's guitar work on Sewer Heart is clear and very easy on the ears, without sacrificing any of the heaviness or impact of the tune. A Foot in Each Hell, another track from their demos, has a fine verse riff in the high range that pairs well with the underlying bass-oriented tune. Aldrahn changes his vocals to a harsher palette on Cocoons, too -- which is one of the best tracks on the album, and reveals some much-needed ferocity along with the introspective drama of the slower parts. Which is good, because the final track, Syndebukken, removes most of that roughness with a walking-paced piece that is completely unmemorable and ends the album with a whimper.

As mentioned, the biggest flaw is in the way most of the vocals are done -- it doesn't fit from the start, and it never gets any better. The melodic approach to The Deathtrip's black metal, however, does hang together, and periodically gives off flashes of brilliance which sadly never quite get sustained. A decent-but-not-great offering, Deep Drone Master still might be a sign of better things to come out of the band in the future.

Killing Songs :
A Foot in Each Hell, Cocoons
Andy quoted 70 / 100
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