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The Death and Life of…
Artist:  The Deadlines
Label:  Tooth & Nail Records
Length: 13 tracks
Imagine the sound you'd get if Tim Burton's composer Danny Elfman drafted songs for seminal punk band The Ramones to play at beach parties.  Tooth & Nail offers a musical concoction in this vein with The Death and Life of…, the first release from Oregon's The Deadlines.  The band dubs their blend "horror punk," and does a pretty good job of keeping the listener's attention with it, at least for a little while.

Two things set The Deadlines apart from the God-knows-how-many other punk bands currently on the market.  The first is their complete obsession with campy horror films.  Chief lyricist "Shaun Coffin" (who strongly resembles an undead version of All Star United frontman Ian Eskelin) writes songs with titles like "Go-Go to the Graveyard" and "Last Nail in Your Coffin."  Unfortunately, what starts the album as a pleasant novelty turns formulaic toward the end, and Coffin's lyrics, while they sound okay when combined with the music, are incredibly cheesy when separated:

    It was a horrible night
    It was a horrible sight
    It was a horrible fright
    The day I realized I had died
    (From "Horrible Night")

The other factor that makes The Deadlines different from their peers is the addition of a Farfisa organ on many of the tracks.  This gives the album a very surf-flavoured sound (which doesn't, by the way, always fit so well with the horror movie theme of the lyrics).  The surf influence is most evident on "Dead Indeed," while "Go-Go to the Graveyard" uses the organ, in a manner more suited to the rest of the song.  Also included is "The Dark Night of the Soul," an organ instrumental penned by St. John of the Cross.

In the end, The Death and Life of… falls flat for the same reason that many novelty albums do:  the schtick wears very thin with repeated listenings.  However, it'll be fun to pull it out every now and then, especially around Halloween.

Michial Farmer 3/26/2000

When I read the bio of The Deadlines on the Cornerstone web site, they seemed like just another in the endless line of punk bands ready to stake their claim at the festival. Garage punk was the best description given by the bio, which really didn't trip my trigger. Luckily, I overheard a conversation about the band where I heard three words that rung in my ears like church bells: "Blood Spitting Vampires." I drooled at the thought and nearly cursed the bio for almost causing me to skip such an event. 

Sure enough, I watched as zombie-like men dressed in white shirts and skinny black ties spat blood onto the audience during the crowd favorite "Vampires In Love." The violent movements of their bodies as they flew across stage and occasionally jumped onto the audience caught my attention and drew me closer to the "punk" band I had never intended to give the time of day. By the end of the set, as they fell to the floor, I knew they were my answer to the untimely break up of Blaster the Rocketman. The question was, as they crawled their blood-drenched bodies off the stage, could they capture this on an album? 

Open the case of the CD and you see what a younger Cure would have looked like if they had been dead for three days. If you're a Joy Electric fan, you'll also notice the obvious resemblance of Shaun Coffin (if that is his real name) to Ronnie Martin. Of course, he would have to be the evil twin that was separated at birth, but the resemblance is uncanny at any rate. The photo shoot for the sleeve was also all done on a gloomy, gray day in, yes, a cemetery. Were you expecting anything else? 

Oh yeah, there's also a CD in there, too.  What's better than the fact they spit blood at live shows? Well, they don't abuse phony British accents or sport blue hair (and they call themselves a punk band!). However, if you strip away the gore, you find yourself with an early Ramones album, which is much more interesting and creative than the Huntingtons. There are similar riffs and guitar sounds as each track averages a mere three minutes, but there is also an added bonus to the dark garage punk. The unearthly organ played by "The Creature" creates a restless cemetery feel that helps support the band's image. The opening lines to the first track chill you with goose flesh as the album seems to creep from the depths of the grave and blast you away with forceful distortion and vengeance. I've never heard an organ abused in such an aggressive manner. 

A quick glance at the song list and you know you're in for a hauntingly delicious time. Each title ("Go-Go To The Graveyard," "Murder Creek Road," "Dead Indeed") resembles a 1950's horror/sci-fi movie that might show at a drive-in. The frightful lyrics do justice as do the brutal sounds of half-dead men flailing away on their instruments. The vocals of "Coffin" are much more diverse and almost seductive in contrast to 6'3" Joey Ramone's. The Deadlines have taken punk and forced it to be as creative as possible, compared to much of the punk found on Tooth and Nail Records. 

Nolan Shigley 8/11/2000
 
 

Nolan Shigley is also a writer for Opuszine, a webzine devoted to independent music and cult cinema.  All of his reviews can also be found at http://www.opuszine.com

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

   
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