Hot off the Press

Deadlands | Evilution

by Mark Allen
– Senior Columnist —

DeadlandsFronted by ex-Vicious Rumors vocalist Brian O’Connor, this red-blooded American heavy metal band will make fans that crave power and thrash in equal measures happier than an ailurophobic running over a stray cat. Deadlands’ DNA consists of bands like Exodus, Testament, Helstar, Forbidden, Metallica, Overkill, Heathen … you get the drift.

So if you’re looking for originality and creativity, you are hereby advised to move along, ‘cause there’s nothing to see here. But if you’re just looking to have your butt whooped by some rip-roaring, hard rocking heavy metal, then pull up a chair, crack a cold one, and stay awhile. Deadlands will neither stun you nor bum you; they just buckle down and get the job done, that job being to deliver oldschool American power/thrash metal filtered through modern production aesthetics.

The formula is simple: take a fierce guitarist, pair him with a good vocalist, surround them with competent musicians, and presto, you’ve got yourself a metal band that won’t embarrass themselves. Deadlands is just such a band. They’ve got the sound down pat, with enough chainsaw riffs and whiplash rhythms to keep the headbangers happy and enough sociopolitical lyrics to ensure nobody accuses them of Velveeta songwriting.

Speaking of songs, they tend to vary in terms of quality, vacillating between “kickass,” “kind of cool,” and “just okay.” In the kickass category, you’ve got “Ground and Pound” with its skull-stomping aggression, snarling attitude, and gang vocal chorus, or “Gone Wrong” which features a hard rocking tempo with tear-it-up guitars and patriotic lyrics like “Praise the Lord / Pass the ammunition.” Ted Nugent would approve.

In the kind of cool section of the bleachers perch tracks like “Final Solution” which is a thundering thrash metal anthem that shouts its support for American Armed Forces with eyebrow-arcing lyrics like “You know we don’t take no shit / American forces, we come well equipped / We’re the final solution / When the shit hits the fan.” Hell yeah, did someone order a side of “Hoo-ah!” to go with their metal?

And if “just okay” is just fine with you, then “Pandemic Genocide” fits the bill, sounding like the bastard stepchild of Overkill and Metallica but without a good hook to really grab your attention. The closing track, “Shed My Skin,” suffers from the same problem, serving up plenty of metal fury but without really digging its claws into your throat and demanding another listen.

Bottom line, this is a solid U.S.-style heavy/thrash/power metal album. Nothing more, nothing less. There are hundreds of better heavy metal bands out there … but there are thousands worse, and that pretty much tells you all you need to know. Deadlands may not be the next great evolutionary step in heavy metal … but they’re not a bunch of talentless monkeys either.

Genre: Heavy Metal

Steve Northam (bass)
Dan Sablan (drums)
Kevin Rohr (lead guitar)
Michael J. Gardner (lead guitar)
Brian O’Connor (vocals)

Track Listing
1. Pandemic Genocide
2. Deadlands
3. Ground and Pound
4. Final Solution
5. She’s On Fire
6. Asphyxiate the Masses
7. Path We’ve Chosen
8. Gone Wrong
9. Legions of the Damned
10. Shed My Skin

Label: Massacre Records


Hardrock Haven rating: 7/10