I don’t mean to sound sexist when I say this, but one of the things that always makes me skeptical about a metal band that I’m about to check out is a female vocalist. There are excellent examples out there of female singing done right in all different styles of metal and rock, from Arch Enemy to all incarnations of The Gathering. At the same time, there’s about a hundred times as many examples of bands where the female vocals either suck or are, at best, a gimmick. The usual skepticism reared its ugly head when I found out that the subject of my next review, Deadlock’s new release Bizarro World, was a metal act with female vocals. As you’re about to see, this was actually the least of my worries.
Deadlock is a six piece metal act from Bavaria, Germany, and they have an extensive back catalog that I am not familiar with. They offer a nice blend of thrashy and melodic heavy metal with down tempo, power-driven choruses and beautifully executed female vocals. Sometimes it all gets a bit too simple, and at moments, it even flirts with the borders of trendy pop rock. My understanding is that there has been much evolution with the band, but the female vocals have been a standard since 2004. With that said, I was a little surprised to not hear the voice of the female counterpart for almost a full two minutes into the opening track, which is curiously titled “Virus Jones”. At any rate, I found the vocal package in its entirety to be well done. The screams by Johannes are somewhat throaty and in the mid-to-high range, and Sabine is quite the songstress. The majority of the tracks feature both vocalists, and these are the ones that I prefer the most. There are a few songs, such as “State Of Decay”, which feature only Sabine singing, and these songs are noticeably mellower. I kind of felt like these songs were a serious disconnect from the rest of the album, which was otherwise very strong musically. On the other hand, the aforementioned song was a lot more “mainstream” (to put it nicely) and felt out of place.
The musicianship is pretty good, featuring some excellent guitar work that never got boring, even when it became simplified and more of a background compliment than a driving force. Also, the solos are very melodic and enjoyable. The drums are solid and without frills, and they prove to be the engine that fires on all cylinders throughout Bizarro World – never complicated, but always the glue that holds it all together. There is also a keyboard presence, but it’s very minimal for the most part, although it is not without its moments. Unfortunately, the few times when the electronics do come to the foreground (for example, the song “Renegade”), they drift into an awkwardness that’s kind of unorthodox for aggressive metal, and Deadlock doesn’t quite pull it off – in fact, it actually sounded a bit circus-like in the example I provided.
The one thing that was a major turn-off for me was the lyrics, though. Actually, it was pretty much the whole theme overall. A lot of it is concerning love-gone-wrong and other juvenile issues, which is not what I look for in my music. When you get down to it, the problem is that the words that were chosen to describe it give me the impression that they were written by a sad ninth grader. A great example of this was “Brutal Romance”, and while I can’t find the lyrics online, I’m pretty sure the chorus featured this exact line:
Break your arms, break your legs
And ask for a dance
What a brutal romance, what a brutal romance
It always takes two to tango
What a brutal romance, what a brutal romance
That just makes me embarrassed for the band. I mean, “it always takes two to tango”? Really? You may dig that sort of thing, and if so, you probably also like Twilight, Paramore, and dicks in and around your mouth. I tend to think more people will be left feeling the same as I was though. The music may be pretty decent at times, but the theme represents almost every nail in the coffin.
In closing, you can do a lot worse than Deadlock, but they didn’t appeal to me at all. I bet there is a distinct group of people who will be able to really get into this band, however. If you like heavy metal with songbird-like female vocals, or if you’re still in high school, it may be worth your while to give this album a spin. If you actually like aggressive metal, chances are there will be some aspects here that you can get into, but you’ll find Bizarro World to be all-too-fitting of an album title and walk away disappointed like I did – which was amplified by the fact that I recognize the potential this band has.
01. Virus Jones
02. State Of Decay
03. Falling Skywards
05. You Left Me Dead
06. Brutal Romance
10. Bizarro World
11. Paranoia Extravaganza