By Jerry Herrera
Looking back on Dance with the Dead’s discography, and having had the pleasure of reviewing almost all of their albums, it sinks in just how adept they are at taking us to synth’s darkest corners and most bizarre dimensions. Some producers give us written backstory and other ancillary information to go with their music, just so we know exactly where we’re supposed to be thematically. DWTD doesn’t really do that, instead they craft darkness and drama almost exclusively with their music. Send The Signal is yet another journey into the weird, another descent into madness, another tale of terror told through the medium of synth.
The intro track, 'They’re Here' is both shimmering sci-fi synth and pulsating horror bass, arriving at a place that is cold and ominous, like a clear winter’s sky. The theme of Send The Signal becomes apparent right away: We are not star gazing in wonder, we are looking upward in fear.
'Poison' drops the listener directly in the middle of what I love about DWTD and is a perfect example of their overall style. Heavy guitars and heavy synths rule this track, which escalates further and further in intensity until we are carried away by a terrifying melody. Fans of ‘50s sci-fi will appreciate the theremin-esque spookiness of it. Indeed, we are being taken to strange places, abducted perhaps.
'Not of this Earth' and 'Spacewalk' continue the stampede of the growling, grating synth juggernaut that is DWTD. Throughout the year I’ve heard a lot of similar horror synth with similar basslines that I would describe as grating, but in a negative this-is-kind-of-annoying way. I am not aware of the production process nor do I have the words to describe it, but DWTD make their basslines sound like the purring of an engine or the growling of a beast, as opposed to the sputtering of a dirt bike. It’s this level of, shall we say, atmospheric awareness, that sets them apart.
Up next is 'Signals' which strays more into OutRun territory with some lighter synth work and echoed toms and some fist pumping snares. A Strange synth melody dances with an absolutely rocking guitar solo that’s over a bit too soon but I promise you will be yelling “Hell Yeah!” at your speakers. 'Take Me There' steps back a little for some tense drama building before breaking into more guitar teased mid tempo OutRun. As with the previous track, there is a late blossom of sci fi terror/beauty that is absolutely arresting.
For the final act in their tale, 'Nightdrive' serves as a slower palette cleanser that doesn’t let up on any of the atmosphere but after spending the past few tracks in a state of breathlessness it’s nice to have a moment with something layered and reflective. It’s a track that lets us ask ourselves if what we witnessed was real or not, if the fire in the sky was just our minds playing tricks on us, if the faceless men who came to visit were just products of our own nightmares.
Whatever the answers are, what we are left with is yet another master stroke from Dance With The Dead. I am so proud of and pleased with these guys because they set the bar high for themselves and not only do they consistently meet our expectations with each release, they take us in different and believable narrative directions each and every time. From the halls of the dead, to the depths of the ocean, and now to dizzying heights in the clutches of malevolent, otherworldly creatures, I have gone to many places with Dance with the Dead, and I will continue to follow them into whatever twisted nightmares they travel to next.
Dance with the Dead presents Send The Signal, which is available at their Bandcamp page here and this release comes very, very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.