‘Catacombs’ is the debut album from Manchester based Horror Metal band The Dead XIII. Since they were formed in the ‘dark and dingy’ backstreets of Manchester they have spread their ‘venom’ throughout the UK. The past few years have seen them perform as support to the likes of Dead, Bad Pollyanna, Fearless Vampire Killers and William Control on his UK ‘Punishment Tour’. Leading up to this release the band joined Bristol boys Ashestoangels on their ‘British Horror Story’ tour and cemented their place as part of the emerging ‘New Grave’ movement. So is ‘Catacombs’ a flat liner, or have these ghouls truly emerged from the underworld and into the spotlight?
First track ‘XIII’ exemplifies what The Dead XIII are all about. The style of the instrumentals will be familiar to long time fans. Anyone who has seen these guys live or heard the previous EP release ‘Creatures Of The Night’ will recognise the distorted guitar riffs and heavy beats all accompanied by Kurt Blackshard’s growling vocals. This is a memorable start to the album and a tune that is sure to get stuck in your head deeper than any coffin nail.
‘Frostbite’ is a real chiller of a song, and one of the best written from the band so far. The lyrics telling a doom laden tale of icy death are masterfully brought to life by Kurt and reinforced by a blizzard of guitar riffs, not to mention the avalanche of beats from Spike on the drums. This is a track that holds the listener in an icy grip right from the first note and refuses to let go!
Sharing the same name as the album, ‘Catacombs’ is a tune sure to stir all but the most lifeless soul. Kicking off with notes as weighty as a tombstone this seems at first to be more of the same but the pace eventually relents fading into an evocative melody of lighter string plucking. It is the introduction of new elements such as these that make ‘Catacombs’ (song and album) stand out from the bands earlier works. A brilliantly executed song that shows a real evolution in The Dead XIII’s style.
‘Be-Were’ truly puts the ‘Horror’ in Horror Metal! The lyrics describing gruesome fiends replete with blood dripping claws longing to tear your flesh from bone paint a truly horrific image. Personifying the creatures described in the lyrics this track features a gut ripping rhythm that is torn apart by a brief but brilliant guitar solo. Surely even the most brain-dead zombies out there will be headbanging to this gory tale.
It seems all the effort the band could muster has gone into making each of these tracks a wondrously macabre journey into darkness. The final song ‘Apothesis’ represents this on an epic level! The intro uses synths to build a truly eerie atmosphere that continues to linger in the background throughout, and the guitar solo will haunt you long after the final note. As The Dead XIII say ‘The Ghosts Are Waiting’.
It seems all the effort the band could muster has gone into making each of these tracks a wondrously macabre journey into darkness.