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The Dawn of Dying might have just been a one-off, a curiosity of country Wild West thrash that was anomalously concocted out of Germany of all fucking places. But Alex Kraft decided that after six years, the trail had grown too cold, and once again demanded the beating of hooves, the wake of covered wagons, and the sounds of gunfire ringing off across its open prairies. So, well after the dust had cleared, the spurs had rusted and the outlaws had been hung, the Desperadoz returned, changing the -s in their name to the -z, and The Legend and the Truth was born. This time, instead of just having his buddy Tom Angelripper handle the vocals, Kraft has decided to take on the duty himself with some cleaner pipes that remind one more of Layne from Alice in Chains or Ian from The Cult than the heavily Sodomized debut.
It's certainly a competent replacement, and a fine fit for the better production of this album, but I actually found it more agreeable to my own tastes when Angelripper was present. Not that he would have been required for a repeat, but the coolest thing about the debut was that it was a Wild West THRASH album, for the most part, and that contrast of thematic manliness and wanton aggression gave it a unique quality. I don't really want to hear something that's just a Wild West rock album, more or less Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory" mixed with Dirt or Facelift, with perhaps some added meat to the sparse metal guitars and less pop readiness. Granted, the vocals here are quite professional sounding, but the whole album reeks of safety when compared to its predecessor, and I could feel my interesting here numbing after only a few tunes...
There really is nothing heavy about this album, anywhere. It's far more focused on its concept as a Wyatt Earp biography, and at best you'll get some open chords under huge swathes of clean country sounds, rock drumming and other instrumentation as fits its theatrical nature. A few of the songs have some chugging patterns, like "OK Corral" and "Friends 'Till the End", but I feel once again drawn to the Alice in Chains comparison, because these are about as metal as "We Die Young" from that Seattle band's debut. Then there are the various little narrative segues, or the cover of the Rawhide theme, and goofy pieces like "Hellbilly Square" which break up any of the serious qualities the album might otherwise have had.
In summation, this was a pretty big disappointment, and in retrospect I almost wish the project had just been laid to rest after the debut. Kraft tries to season the record with a slew of guest appearances from Tobias Sammett, Joacim Cans, Doro Pesch, Michael Weikath and so forth (including Tom Angelripper on the bonus track), but it doesn't add any dimension of character, just the usual minimal celebrity contributions. It's not completely void of decent music, especially as the atmosphere in songs like "First Blood" and "OK Corral" maintains the Western aesthetic so well, and the intro title track is quite glorious, perfect for a TV show, but of the 50 minutes, there are maybe 15-20 that are actually worth hearing. The concept makes sense, but it seems like Kraft went for a shallower musical experience to try and find a greater exposure, and the dream of an epic Western thrash masterpiece that fused the good looks of The Dawn of Dying with superior riffing force ends here.
I once said in my review for Dezperadoz's latest album Eye for an Eye that this album was really good, but upon revisiting it, there are some serious flaws with this one, which is not something I'm proud to admit. Yes, this is still a proudly wailing, crunching exercise in Wild West wife-beatin', cattle-ranchin', gun-totin' Heavy Metal, aided by the powerful, clear voice of Alex Kraft and also his meaty guitar attacks, but the band doesn't seem to want to be that at all. Why is this? These guys had all the power and energy to make a real 5/5 modern Metal classic, so what happened?
I think the problem is that Dezperadoz seemed to think that they couldn't rule too much at a time, so they decided to pomp up this album with silly shit and atmospheric interludes to make sure they didn't overwhelm any listeners. Which doesn't make any sense at all, considering the genre of music these guys are playing. This sounds a lot like Dream Evil or Mystic Prophecy when it gets kicking, but the momentum is stopped too much for that to happen a lot. We start off with a really long intro piece that is kind of pleasant, but not really necessary - we just want the Metal! - and then "Dust of History" kicks off with its booming riffs, gritty, snarling guitar tone and screaming chorus. "First Blood" rocks out with a Maidenesque gallop and a glorious ending section, and "Dead Man Walking" is a huge ballad with a lot of charisma and heart, but then the album just sort of shits on itself after that, with another over-long atmospheric piece and two joke songs in the form of TV show theme "Rawhide" and the silly "Hellbilly Square," which aren't bad on their own, but they have no place in the middle of a concept album like this, just randomly stuck in the middle. What was the band thinking? "Hey, this album would be so much more awesome if we broke up the ass-kicking with a bunch of silly drivel and made it harder for the listeners to really enjoy it as a whole"? Ridiculous.
A lot of this album still really kills after that, though, like "March to Destiny," which is incredibly hooky and catchy beyond belief, with this upbeat, slightly country-influenced melody clashing with the pounding drums and rattling guitars to create a very cool song. It's followed up by "OK Corral," which is by far the song with the most obvious use of pinch harmonics; its squealing guitars make more noise than a pack of wild mice! "Shootout" is perhaps my favorite little interlude here, seamlessly morphing into the pummeling "Look Into the Barrel of My Gun," which serves as a precursor to what the band would be doing in 2008, with its more vicious and angry mood. "Earp's Vendetta" and "Friends 'till the End" are both straightforward, hard-hitting rockers with big choruses and fist-pumping riffs and a whole lot of attitude. That's another thing I like about this album, the raw, aggressive Metal attitude. Vocalist Alex Kraft has a charismatic voice that offers rock-solid vocal lines that accent the music wonderfully, and the good stuff on here is just killer to work out or take a walk to.
So, here we have an album of two halves. One half reminds me of Sergio Leone movies, serious, epic and engaging, but the other half reminds me of a kiddy rodeo show, rife with bright colors, funny clowns, slapstick humor and over-done Southern accents. If Dezperadoz wanted to make a funny, lighthearted Metal album, they should have done so, and if they wanted to make an epic, serious concept album, they should have done that. You can't just sit in the middle of the two. How would Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime sound if the band decided to put a polka interlude and a cover of the He Man theme song after "Suite Sister Mary"?
Dreadful thoughts, those.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
I am quite unsure of what to say about this album and this band in general. They seem to be a solid band with a strong gimmick that does a decent job of fusing two genres. So then, why the low score? They fuse generic country and generic metalcore (If they aren't particularly metalcore, they steal the thing I find most annoying about the genre).
After the token intro track, there is a nice heavy riff. Nothing special, but I'm looking forward to a normal heavy metal album. Then, the pitch harmonics begin. I cannot express to you how much this sound annoys me. The pitch harmonic has become a symbol of generic, boring, and might be the sound that is killing metal.
The first two songs are fine enough, excluding the dreaded P.H.s, but the band actually begins to entertain around Deadman Walking (a mostly country song), Rawhide (The most enjoyable 'metal' song on here), and Tombstone (A mediocre track on it's own, but a great follow up to the previous tracks).
Hellbilly square is a great track. I like it, it's funny, catchy, and has a good sound. Defiantly the track to remember. Echoes wraps up the concept nicely with a collection of the intro used in most of the songs. Normally this would fall under the boring recycling label, but they pull it off, and are smart enough to stick it in the back. Echoes is all the fun of this album rolled into four minutes. Alex is 30 seconds of outro overkill that feels tacked on and useless.
Unfortunately the rest of the songs follow the same fatal flaw as the first two tracks, which renders them completely un-enjoyable in my eyes. Somebody tell these guys that just because you've got a strong gimmick doesn't mean you are allowed to make generic boring mainstream crap and expect to get away with it.
So, if you are not nearly as tired of the pitch harmonic as I am, add two of three point on to my score, for they are what truly ruined the album for me.What I want you to take away from my review is that these guys play a solid mix of country and metal, suitable for casual fans of either genre. Serious fans of either genre will rather listen to the straight up stuff then this.
I'll admit, it was a pretty big bummer for me to hear that Onkel Tom was going to quit vocals for the new Dezperadoz album. I like his style and he suited the job well. However, after a couple of spins, there's not even anymore thinking of the man! Alex Kraft had shown off his throat in the song Desperados from Dawn of Dying already, and here he does a magnificent job alongside a whole span of guest vocalists. A slightly tainted voice, a nice rough yelling sort of scream at the harder parts, excellent job.
Not only the vocals have improved, so has the songwriting, arrangements and the great concept (Wyatt Earp). Catchy choruses, powerful riffing, steady drums, awesome intros for each song that really capture the mood... it's all there. Dust of History is the obvious single, a powerful track that stumps right through, a big bag of cowboy balls packed in it. It's a great pick to start he album with: intro to set the mood, then Dust of History to kill any doubts that it WILL be fucking awesome. First Blood is great as well, Dead Man Walking even better with some softer, more melancholic feel. Aww heck, every song on here is great. The Rawhide cover doesn't feel out of place either, the interludes are beautiful and atmospheric instead of boring, the whole is nearly flawless.
Nearly? Yes, nearly, hence the 99 instead of 100 score. The only letdown is the track Look into the Barrel of My Gun. No nice intro, or you should count Shootout as the intro. There's some odd hooks that just don't feel right within the song, and though the pace is good and the chorus slays, there's just a little too much quirky bits in it. Costing the album one point, it does little to this brilliant piece of cowboy metal.