Born out of jam sessions between former Napalm Death and Cathedral frontman Lee Dorrian and ex-Electric Wizard duo Tim Bagshaw and Mark Greening, it’s no surprise that With The Dead’s self-titled debut LP came from the darkest depths of the doom metal abyss. Three years on, Love From With The Dead comes from a place of anything but love, and has somehow darkened things even further. Greening may have departed, with Leo Smee (ex-Candlemass) and Alex Thomas (ex-Bolt Thrower) cementing the band’s new status as a four-piece, but waves of Electric Wizard gloominess remain as the band continue to explore the notion that hate and darkness are a far more effective source of creativity than love and hope.
Despite line-up changes, With The Dead’s core sound is largely unchanged from their debut. Thomas proves a more precise drummer than Greening’s comparably unpredictable concoction of percussion, providing tolling cymbals and rumbling drums that keep things rolling, most impressively on the 18 minutes that comprise agonizing closer ‘Cv1’. Meanwhile, Tim Bagshaw’s gargantuan fuzz gives the album’s hulking riffs a dingy weight, and despite approaching 50, Dorrian refuses to mellow with age. The Forests Of Equilibrium singer continues to explore slower and bleaker textures than Cathedral at their grooviest, giving a half-spoken, half-roared vocal performance that refuses to stray into any floaty hallucinogenic areas. If there are drug-fuelled textures here, they are those of austere panic-stricken lows more so than mellow highs.
Within the album’s first half, With The Dead prove their infinite ability to craft slices of gloriously sludgy brilliance, but it is their more ambitious endeavours that prove the most rewarding. The hushed cult-like chanting of slow-building track ‘Watching The Ward Go By’ prove disturbingly ominous before its distorted finale provides the ultimate gloom-ridden catharsis, and closer ‘Cv1’ begins to wade through psyched-out textures that ensure the album’s final moments are also its most deranged.
Love From With The Dead proves that Greening’s sudden dismissal has not taken any life out of Dorrian’s undead champions of the riff, as the impressive roster of seasoned musicians that make up With The Dead provide a masterful and mercilessly dreary barrage of doom metal darkness throughout their second full-length effort.
Love From With The Dead is out now on Rise Above Records. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr