Dead and Dripping – Blackened Cerebral Rifts Review

[Cover Art by Jason Wayne Barnett]

More like blackened cerebral RIFFS, amirite?

Now that we got that idiocy out of the way, I’d like to talk about Key & Peele, the delightful sketch comedy show created by the wild minds of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. First, rewatching older sketches like this one has made it painfully clear that Peele had been telegraphing his horror obsessions long before he started directing. Second, my wife only had a passing familiarity with their work and had never seen some of their most popular bits. That was my time to encourage the consumption of a gummy (you know the ones) and start cycling through the hits. A particular favorite of hers has one very specific moment that is constantly overtaking my vision while I listen to Dead and Dripping:

Release date: August 11, 2023. Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
If you want to get froggy, you want Evan Daniele, the sole member of Dead and Dripping, in your life. That frogginess isn’t just because his vocals are amphibious enough to pop Mitch McConnells’ throat pouch. No, the bass bounces like a happy frolicking tree frog, the guitars swarm and dart like tadpoles in a pond, and the drums bring down a steady, potent rain that would make any army of frogs sing. Did you know “army” is the proper term for a group of frogs? Don’t say I never did anything for you.

Don’t get it twisted; while all of that sounds very upbeat, there’s nothing pleasant about listening to Dead and Dripping’s third album Blackened Cerebral Rifts. In fact, I’d say this particular batch of technical death metal is all too ready to blast up on some terries. One of the most immediate strengths of this album is its production. The sound achieved is crisp without being clean, meaning you can hear every instrument clearly and layered to each one’s benefit without the songs feeling sterilized. Despite the cacophony being created, the sounds are not overwhelming or detract from the songcraft at hand. It’s reminiscent of something like None So Vile, where it’s raucous and raw but decipherable thanks to a deft hand at production thanks to Daniele, yet again.

The gurgling vocals and dense, complicated music will likely lead most people to think of Demilich as the most obvious comparison. That match is further cemented by the perfectly ridiculous death-metal word-salad song titles like “Kaleidoscopic Visions of Porous Obsidian Eternities.” What the hell is that? I don’t know, and you don’t either, you liar! It sure does sound awesome, though.

The nearly eight-minute “Infinitely Plummeting into Violet Portals of Delusion” may be the most emblematic track on the album because, despite its length, the song engagingly plays with tempos while balancing steadily shifting patterns against repeated passages just enough to keep you locked in and have your head swirling. While the early few minutes swing through an angular maze of riffs and staccato batterings of snare abuse, the song starts to consistently slow to a doomy crawl in the middle as if Daneile is starting to fall apart from attempting to play the first half. When it picks back up, most of the rest of the song has a killer repeated guitar part with a biting, pinched riff that has undeniable swagger. While asking someone to engage in 45 minutes of this kind of music is a tall order, Daniele throws you a bone occasionally with a great hook, tempo reprieve or even a little soft lilipad of an interlude right in the middle of the album.

Other elements help with this reprieve as well, such as the bopping bass passage in “Meticulously Unraveling the Serpentine Consciousness” or the lead provided by Toni Thomas (Carnal Tomb) in the album opener “Tragic Ascent of Absurdity’s Pale Moon.” It would be great to have leads like that sprinkled throughout the album a bit more often, as it provides a real flare of fiery smoothness amongst the mostly jagged riffs.

You needn’t be a herpetologist to enjoy this swamp of technical goodness. Make yourself a nice grasshopper, post up on a log in the woods and let Blackened Cerebral Rifts rain a veritable swarm of delicious death metal treats all over your moist little head.

Posted by Spencer Hotz

Admirer of the weird, the bizarre and the heavy, but so are you. Why else would you be here?

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