For those listening in from the outside, the modern heavy metal scene may seem like an angry and dark corner of our modern culture. So the first thing that may surprise you about local metal band Blessiddoom is the band’s stated motive: “Make music that makes you happy.”
Happy never sounded so disconsolate as on the band’s first full-length album, “Dystopium,” out this week on Demonlily Records.
Listening to singer Eddie Johnson croak out guttural screeds about how “your whole life is a lie” and “your plastic life, it’s your grave,” one doesn’t get the sense that this is a guy who’s particularly high on life. Backed by the thunderous drumming of Paul Rosen and the squalling fretwork of Russ and Sherri Reel on guitar and bass, the band’s sound reaches high peaks of distorted cacophony in pretty much every song on the album.
But pull back the black curtain, and one finds a band with a surprisingly irreverent and upbeat attitude about what they do. The band is known to bring along a coven of go-go dancers to share the stage during live shows. And when he’s not screeching into a microphone about the falsehoods and inequities of modern society, Johnson comes across as a warm-voiced, gregarious conversationalist with a Zen-like attitude about his musical outlet.
“The aggressiveness of some of the music, it allows you to channel some of that negative energy out of yourself,” said Johnson. “A lot of metal-heads are really calm and cool; they don’t have much negative vibe to give you, because they’ve released it all. That’s what this is all about, to us.”
The band bangs out plenty of aggression over the ten tracks of its new album. Tracks such as “Decimate, Ascimilate, Conform” and the aptly named “Neural Destructor” pound and punish from first to last.
But scattered throughout the album are many interludes of moody atmospherics and bluesy digressions. Almost half of the opening track, “Five Minute Hate,” (which, confusingly, runs about nine minutes long), is taken up with a sparse instrumental jam that only slowly builds back to the fever pitch of the song’s opening volley.
“We wanted to include the atmospheric stuff so that when it’s heavy, it really feels heavy,” said Johnson.
Such broad textures aren’t common in modern metal, which is too often painted in a monochromatic shade of black. That said, the band sometimes doesn’t sound altogether comfortable when it slows down. Rosen’s drum fills in “The Five Minute Hate” – and, later, in the almost ballad-like verses of “Silence is Death” – tend to push ahead of the established tempo, like a mad dog straining at its leash. And Johnson’s cookie-monster squall doesn’t particularly lend itself to sustained notes.
Still, it’s a strong effort for a local band that only recently celebrated its third birthday.
The go-go dancers will be there, and so will the new record, when Blessiddoom performs a CD release show this Friday, Apr. 17, at the Other Side. Joining the band for the show are local acts Universal Choke Sign and Walking Corpse Syndrome.