28 Apr 2016

Dead Hills: "Purgatory / Winds of Time"

Master crafted atmospheres and grey vibes
Australia has a track record of great metal bands, and in a huge variety of subgenres too. Most well known is probably the country-continent's affinity for blackened thrash bands like Deströyer 666, but with big names like Portal, Psycroptic, The Berzerker, Abyssic Hate, Hobbs' Angel of Death, Mortal Sin and more, it's safe to say they know what they're doing down under. Dead Hills, however, is a rare occurence yet. A black metal band at heart, the one-man band rends depressive soundscapes with electronic clouds of ambience and lengthy passages of withering distortion.

Weaver's debut as Dead Hills, entitled Purgatory / Winds of Time, is striking in all its brilliant glory. In most cases the blackened chords and thin tremolos of depressive black metal are shrouded in a thick smog of distorted guitars, reverbed drums and echoing, cavernous vocals. Dead Hills, however, takes the high road and makes it a priority to make every chord and every melody stand out.

That clear sound is absolutely imperative for the Australian project as Weaver's guitar leads aim for ambitious and soaring melodies which loom over the rhythmic base work. There are times, especially on the longer tracks, where his compositions are almost grandious, fearlessly braving the sustained passages in which they are performed.

In much the same way as the single musician conjures up beautiful melodies does his tortured screams stand in stark contrast to the organic and natural moods he creates with his riffing. It seems a central element to Dead Hills, and is somewhat of a recurring theme with Purgatory / Winds of Time. As such the band stands out, not only among Australian bands, but international contemporaries alike. 

"the creative impulses of the classic bands have propelled Dead Hills to a more modern sound without completely removing himself from the roots that spawned the project."

Dead Hills might not be the most original or innovative band around - After all, the influence from the classic Scandinavian bands from the 90s is highly prevalent and noticable, sometimes more than others. But Weaver touches upon themes and unusual melodic work which makes his compositions with Dead Hills just a bit more distinguishable than many similar bands. In that regard, the creative impulses of the classic bands have propelled Dead Hills to a more modern sound without completely removing himself from the roots that spawned the project.

At one hour and thirty minutes in total play length, Purgatory / Winds of Time is quite an undertaking, both on the musician's behalf but also for the listener to be sitting through. Weaver himself said that it should in actuallity be regarded as two separate releases, Purgatory and Winds of Time being their own albums. And though the two "parts" don't feel much different in terms of musiciansship, songwriting, quality or themes, it does make sense to split the journey into two parts. But even so, Dead Hills' debut doesn't ever get stale, boring or dreary. There's always something happening, and every little detail fits in perfectly where it should.


Released in 2012 independently


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