"Waking The Dead"
Record Label: Jungle Records | Genre/Style: Goth/Rock | Release Date: December 2014 | Country: UK | Virus G Rating: 5/5
NFD fires on all cylinders again, roaring across gritty sound moors that few souls tread and leaving an unmistakable trail of elegy in its wake. Crowning the self-reinvention process initiated by the 8-track EP "Reformations" in 2013, the London/LA-based band has now released its 3rd long-playing, entitled "Waking The Dead", whose ten tracks make Goth-Rock crossover an art. NFD's manoeuvres towards its darkest, dusty musical genesis can be easily perceived in this new album, along with some memorable traces of their previous work, above all from "Dead Pool Rising" and "Deeper Visions". Even though it's a present-day approach to roots made by a band at its prime, which has been able to morph its original essence into revamped sonic forms, more lush, steely and crisply clean. Furthermore, the keyboards, samples and sequencers have a prominent role in these songs, working their chemistry with the intertwining guitar lines so that an eerie atmosphere takes root. This is not only a perfect complement to the electrifying sound core, but also an accurate enhancer for the purgatorial imagery's plausibility, particularly the processed chants and symphonic arrangements. Hence the singer, guitarist and composer Peter "Bob" White (ex-Sensorium), the bassist Tony Pettitt (founding Fields of the Nephilim member and co-leader of The Eden House), the rhythm guitarist Chris Milden (Lahanya), the drummer Luca Mazzucconi (Lahanya) and the lead guitarist James McIlroy (ex-Cradle Of Filth) have made, in my view, their most complete and compelling record so far.
Whether through raucous, attractive drives, based on flawless songwriting and delivery rather than on a mere overdose of force, velocity and volume, or through haunting ambiances flooded with sorrowful synths and epic, both edge and dreamy chords, these songs get deeper in your mind and never won't leave. Sometimes even all of the foregoing converges within the same track, triggering a rapture in the listener. That's the case of the thrilling "Waking The Dead" which, despite of lasting longer than 10 minutes, never fails to send shivers down the spine. After an ominous beginning, with a ghostly keyboard monody and suspenseful jangles of guitar, the song builds gradually on incisive stringed fuelers, punctuated by perfectly timed, assorted drums. Bob growls away on harsh, low-pitched vocals, matched by wailing tunes and sinous riffs in turn, and all leads to a grand spherical 2nd half which spins around scorching solos full of gloom. These boatmen are ferrying us to Hades so check that you have a coin under the tongue before continuing the journey. "Got Left Behind" still keeps us entranced while increasing the widespread voltage. It's an infectious hybrid of might and drama, combining its blustery central beat with huge Wagnerian choirs and spooky flanged fiddles. Punishing chainsaw basslines paired with churning rhythms of guitar, both coated in distortion, propel "Spiral" in such a hell-raising fashion, while it lives up its title during short immersive breaks throughout which the keyboards howl with a dizzying effect. "Let You Fall" weaves bleak, post-apocalyptic western-inspired tales of errant animas into the neurological bass throbs, the crisp and easy-going drums and the heated, regretful echo of guitars and vocals. "The Silence Of The Angels" is also a hallmark NFD crescendo, although there's a stronger current of electricity flowing through the wires. It starts out slowly and releasing toxic fumes into the air, much like in those weirdly quiet intros by Fields of the Nephilim. Cracked sidereal tones and mistery-filled cymbals subtly plunge the song into a far-off, both in time and space, darkness. Then, gravely moans, buzz-saw like riffs and ringing chords with a nostalgic sheen provide an atmospheric breeding ground for the track's colossal outcome, over which some of the biggest guitar hooks and solitaires featured in this album are performed. Emitting grooves from the rockiest side of the gothic spectrum there are punchy, heavy-riffed anthems such as "Red Sky Burning" or "Return To Dust". Whereas, by contrast, you can let furthermost fly the imagination while listening to the wind-swept "Evermore", a ballad laced with a requiem-like processed lament, delicate acoustic guitar strums, wistful piano notes and soulful, drifting into loneliness vocals.
"Waking The Dead" is a priceless record, specially for those wanderers among Goth and Rock who wear, either inside or outside, a gunfighter black hat with pride. It portrays a hungry band in full possession of its powers, rendering its shady inward mayhem into impeccable amalgams of sheer, trance-inducing melodies and relentless, utterly engaging grooves; purely a barrage of Stygian Rock'n'Roll.
Review by Billyphobia