Dead Days Beyond Help - Access Denied!
Post-Rock is alive and well in Alex Ward's world. Taking what made the likes of early Pil and the entire history of The Fall, Ward does the angular guitar/skewed beat/slightly random arrangement thing, and keeps the mood moody. There is always poetry lurking around in bands like this, and Dead Days Beyond Help have their sublime moments.
Mostly instrumental, "Access Denied!" does feature several vocal songs, virtually all of them with tortured lyrics that indicate a desolate inner life for the songs' ("Nervous Disposition," "Slowly Strangled") characters. Lost love, unformed ideas, confused emotions seem to be the extent of the verbal palette here, but that isn't a bad thing. Ward and drummer Jem Doulton never cross the line into pathos or self-pity, and the music more than sets the mood for brooding and anxiety.
Veering close to free jazz, speed metal and most hardcore points in between without ever surrendering, instrumentals like "Covert Surveillance Program," "Nightbus Tourette" and the title track are abrasive but harmonic, as is "Sack," one of the most haunting tunes, with its noise not quite being able to drown out an insistent, impassioned vocal.Alex Ward's career has placed him side by side with innovators like Derek Bailey and Eugene Chadbourne, while also being able to carve out a study-worthy catalog of his own improvisational daring. "Access Denied!" is a short hermetic jaunt through dark places that brings you out intact. Despite his choice of name for the project, these Dead Days hint that help may be hard to find, but keep looking.
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