With The Dead - Love From With The Dead album review

Lee Dorrian and Leo Smee reunite for a tower of spite

Cover art for With The Dead - Love From With The Dead album

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Fuck you, hippie scum. Hate is a far more effective and creative force than love: just listen to With The Dead, they’re filled with it. You could say it’s their driving force. The worst part of it all is that anyone might have thought they’d reached hateful rock bottom with their debut two years ago, born out of jam sessions between two former Electric Wizard compadres and later completed by Lee Dorrian. But no, behold and despair, as for this one they’ve grabbed shovels and decided to dig our collective grave even further. This is greatly helped by their new line-up. If their sonic aesthetics (Tim Bagshaw’s Godzilla-sized fuzz sounds like a super-nova exploding in slow motion) and core sound have remained the same, the addition of former Cathedral bassist Leo Smee and Alex Thomas on drums gives it a more solemn and desperate spin. Where former skinbasher Mark Greening’s garage-y yet shambolic style brought an element of unpredictability, Alex is remorselessly precise, not least on the excruciating, 18-minute-long closer, CV1.

If you’re an inconsolable Cathedral fan, you won’t find what you’re looking for here. Lee’s vocal output is more disjointed than ever and there’s no pixie in sight nor any ‘huggy bear’ ‘Oh yeah!’ exclamations, but there are tales of self-loathing (Isolation), hard-drug abuse (Cocaine Phantoms) and of how those close to you betray you in the end (‘When I kiss your lips/I’m another kiss closer to death’ he mutters on Egyptian Tomb). Conceived in two sessions one year apart yet more structured than its predecessor, this could well be Lee Dorrian’s most extreme work since Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine. Part Melvins at their sludgiest, part Saint Vitus if Dave Chandler had been locked in a medieval dungeon for a year and full-on, doom-as-fuck, Love from With The Dead is a masterful and implacably morose salvo from seasoned artists who refuse to soften with age.