Reviewed By Colin McNamara
An angry but interesting piece of independent metal
Common Dead is the brainchild of one man Death/Thrash Metal outfit Andrew Laurenson. Like his previous EP, 'Interim Flesh', everything on this album is performed by Laurenson and orchestrated at his own studio, making every bit of the album truly his work to evolve as he sees fit. Fans who have followed Common Dead for the past release or so will find that 'Diatribe' is different from 'Interim Flesh' but still highly enjoyable to hear in the Death/ Thrash n' Groove outlet of Metal. The easiest way to describe the sound is a cross between Vader's musical style with rock-oriented rhythms and vocals that sound a bit like Five Finger Death Punch, though not as well produced.
One thing Common Dead does very well throughout the album is mix up the rhythms. The opening track, "Inveigh", involves catchy, fast and pummelling riffs that do tend to get a bit repetitive but Laurenson throws in some clean, almost spoken word vocals to add an anthem-like quality to balance things out. The following song, "Critical Mass", is on a very different track: much more melodic and Thrash oriented as opposed to the more Death Metal/Hardcore "Inveigh". As the album progresses on listeners will hear more and more doses of melody which may even throw this album into melodic death metal territory. A track like "Sinister Veil" opens up with a lot more flamboyant guitar work that is rooted in both heavy metal and melodic death metal and just delivers that strong arm punch that is excellent to hear while still showing off a lot of talent on the strings that isn't just a complete chug fest.
The death metal elements only really seem to show up on one track which is "True Noir". Unlike the others which have some melody to them, this one is just a direct punch to the face, showing off Laurenson's angriest moments yet. Like Five Finger Death Punch, some may consider this either downright awesome or a juvenile evolution of nu-metal or hardcore music, but the emotion cannot be denied behind the lyrics. And if people do dislike it, it is the only track that will cause irk. The rest of the tracks that follow vary between intensely melodic thrash, such as "Wound" and heavier, rock-oriented chugging, hardcore driven anthems like "No Saint". Both include plenty of backing melody though, and the drums such as on "No Saint" can vary between a soothing tempo to sounding like a gun battery going off. The final track "Dusk to Dawn" hits pretty hard, but includes again some variation of the keyboards with soft, faded out clean sections during the chorus, but they really help add an ambient atmosphere to the track rather than make it sound like just another 'heavy metal track'. True, the guitars drown them out a lot, but one can still hear them and the closing notes from the guitar themselves are excellent; something that will stick in listener heads for some time.
One track on the album, "Recollect", is the only 'unoriginal' piece from Laurenson. His vocals and music are in there, but the track is mostly built around multiple spoken word/recorded samples, with everything else set like a new background soundtrack to them. Listeners may find this a bit of an interlude that could be passable, but the music alone can be highly appreciated even if the vocals do throw people off track. Overall this collection of music is a stronger, better rounded selection than was present on 'Interim Flesh'. 'Diatribe' is basically like the butterfly out of the cocoon for Laurenson and it definitely shines as far as being more than just generic thrash. True, he may not have a big name behind him like "Universal Records", but Common Dead is one of those hidden islands that is really worth visiting once you sit down and listen. And the amusing thought is that Laurenson alone- performing the drums, vocals, keyboards, and guitars- sounds better than four people performing them in some of the 'bigger' bands who only wish they could have such ingenuity of their own.