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Dead Child - Attack

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Artist: Dead Child

Album: Attack

Label: Quarterstick

Review date: Apr. 16, 2008

Dead Child's Attack has to be a joke. The cheap Metal Blade font, song titles like "Screaming Skull" and "Rattlesnake Chalice,” and catalog number (yep, same as that of the Beast) might have been taken seriously in England 25 years ago, or even in Tampa a decade back, but now?

That’s hardly a damning offense, given that some of today’s most respected cultural voices ply in parody, and this Louisville supergroup has the technical ability and long-forged chemistry needed for serious satire. Although beats on Attack sometimes reach Bay Area thrash metal intensity, the band generally settles in for a rigid post-boogie roll that recalls Iron Maiden, Judas Priest (at their most exuberant), and those bands' immediate descendants like Metal Church and St. Vitus. As the liner notes are very happy to point out, vocalist Dahm eschews the gutteral demon voice popularized by death metal's last wave, and instead offers a coolly controlled tenor-with-benefits (like the ability to scream), not unlike that of tattooed millionaire Bruce Dickinson or freaky troll Ronnie James Dio.

Lyrically, Attack is just silly. "If I can stop the screaming inside, she will scream for me tonight," Dahm declares, making the Geto Boys sound downright romantic and less criminally insane. (Remember when Scarface said "I sit alone in my four-cornered room, starin' at candles / Dreamin' of the people I dismantled"?) The inspired vocals are also a good reminder that as metal as the Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front got in the late '80s, the were just a few degrees away from the bizarre longhair/bootboy amalgam that begot Dead Child's forefathers. They just didn't have someone as talented and inspired as Dahm at the helm.

One has to believe this record wouldn't have seen the light of day, or at least a release on the venerable Touch and Go, if it weren't for the presence of David Pajo (or, according to the liner notes, "David Christian Pajo"), Todd Cook (The Shipping News) and a McMahan brother (Michael, in this case). Their Slint-by-association lineage notwithstanding, they trade chugga chugga riffs and soaring solos across the album's 45 minutes with plenty of conviction. If you ignore the hokey blood-red letters on the back cover, it sounds downright authentic.

All jokes aside, Dead Child has delivered a full slab of tough, rollicking metal on Attack. Its clichéd humor might not incite belly laughs, but anyone who came up in the '80s and actually liked Metallica before the fancy haircuts will have trouble listening to this without tapping their feet and snickering at the same time.

By Andy Freivogel

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