The ageless template laid down by Black Sabbath has been borrowed, stolen, dismantled and rebuilt so many times over the last 40 or more years that it takes a band of singular merit to stand out from the doomed and stoned hordes. Led by former Barn Burner frontman Kevin Keegan (stop laughing, vintage football fans), Dead Quiet have thus far lived up to their name in terms of public profile, but the release of their second album, Grand Rites, looks certain to change that. One of the most imaginative but reassuringly bludgeoning examples of post-millennial Iommi-worship currently available to human ears, it provides strong evidence that Kevin is the next great stoner rock visionary.
“We had a revolving door of a couple of members right at the onset that held us back from finding what was going to work,” he tells us. “But since we formed what is now Dead Quiet, about two years ago, it’s been smooth sailing. We’ve made two records that were really enjoyable and therapeutic. The motion of writing and recording has always been the most rewarding thing for me personally and these records were major ways for me to express things and follow through with a certain vision.”
While many bands with roots in stoner rock and doom metal adhere to a comfortable code of regressive repetition, Dead Quiet honour the greats of the genre without ever sounding like a lazy pastiche. Veering from full-throttle metal riffing to swirling, woozy psychedelic squalls with the ease of intuitive masters, they sound like a band that simply understand what makes heavy music tick and why enduring ideas are very often the best ones.
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“We’re not analogue or old-school elitists, but there’s an undeniable quality of the work that was coming out of the forefathers of rock and metal,” Kevin notes. “The craftsmanship and originality of those songs is combed over relentlessly to this day. It would be silly to deny their influence on us. I think those sounds are so timeless because they are just so real. You couldn’t fuck around with Pro Tools back then, you just had to be really, really good at what you did and capture that sound in its rawest form. What we do is definitely rooted in the classics but there are always contemporary influences that can’t be ignored either.”
Aside from their subtly subversive approach to heavy metal thunder, the most surprising thing about Dead Quiet is that their keyboard player is one Justin Hagberg, former guitarist with Canadian metal diehards 3 Inches Of Blood. Grand Rites is steeped in the rippling roar of authentic Hammond organs, but who knew that Justin was a wizard on the keys?
“Ha ha ha! I didn’t know for the longest time!” chuckles Kevin. “Justin and I have been friends for over 10 years. Other than the few keyboard bits I know he played on 3 Inches Of Blood records, I didn’t know he was serious about playing. But after one evening of crushing several beers, we arrived at the conclusion that he loved playing keyboards and would be an essential addition to Dead Quiet. Voilà!”
A formidable addition to the world of massive riffs, big beards and old-school ethics, Dead Quiet’s grand ritual is only just beginning.
“My hope is just that people will dig this record as much as we do,” Kevin concludes. “We’re just really proud of it. We can’t wait to get out there and play it to people as much as possible.”
Grand Rites is out now via Artoffact/Storming The Base. Order your copy from Amazon.