Dead By April, with Marionette and One Without at The Relentless Garage

12th December 2011
Review by by Faye Coulman
Dead By AprilOnce notorious for spawning some of the most brutal and majestic names in melodeath, Sweden’s Gothenburg scene is, judging by tonight’s perky, pop-laden line-up, moving in increasingly commercial circles. Still, as evidenced by the sizeable number of teenage whippersnappers gathered here tonight, these local players are nevertheless bang on trend with a crowd-pleasing repertoire of rap, dance and pop-infused trimmings.

Emerging in a flurry of melody-rich hooks and shampoo commercial-worthy hair-tossing, an immaculately dressed One Without peddle painfully unoriginal metalcore. Big on enthusiasm but sadly far from pitch-perfect, Swedish songstress Catrin Feymark offers up high-volume, almost Alanis Morissette-flavoured vocals that regrettably lack the expertise of her more musically adept band-mates. But, with face-melting solos and pummelling beats in thick and fast supply, the sum of these energetic parts makes for mildly entertaining pop-metal.

Despite being somewhat muddied by imperfect sound levels, there’s no mistaking Marionette’s fine-tuned balance of melody and blastbeat-driven aggression. With a choice, distinctly In Flames-tinged selection of monstrous grooves and epic melody lines, these fiery Swedes tread familiar but nonetheless deliciously brutal territory that soon sparks off a circle pit among the wildly excited punters. Having ironed out much of the set’s early sound gremlins a couple of songs later, it’s only the band’s tendency toward emo-style cleans that dampens this otherwise explosively aggressive live stint.

Mere notes into their opening number, Dead By April stir up an instant fan frenzy that sees the Garage transformed into a turbulent sea of ecstatic, pogoing chaos. But despite this hectic scene and the quintet’s rather thuggish, baseball-capped attire, theirs is an altogether more controlled, studio smooth-sound that owes as much to melodeath as it does to the likes of, erm, ‘N Sync. Drenched in poppy harmonies and sentimental lyrics sickly enough to shame J.Timberlake himself, it’s an overwhelmingly syrupy formula that’s likely to raise a dry heave among many an extreme metal fan. Purist quibbles aside, DBA dole out an undeniably tight set that’s pulled off with bags of passion and backed up by no shortage of pummelling, melodic death metal.

Plucked from the band’s awaited new full-length, title track ‘Incomparable’ is awash with crystalline harmonies and sing-along choruses that leave DBA’s adoring fans hanging on their every heartfelt word and electrifying note. Balancing this generous side of sugar with a satisfyingly heavy follow-up in the form of ‘Lost,’ the five-piece waste little time in proving their mettle (so to speak) with an ultra-violent mix of pummelling blastbeats and skull-splitting riffs. From the Linkin Park-ish rap metal insanity of ‘Dreaming’ to ‘Calling’s’ sublime, choir boy hooks, this is pop-metal at its most shamelessly commercial. But, with electrifying band chemistry and a fiercely infectious style that’s taking today’s alternative metal world by storm, DBA commands due appreciation.