When it comes to album reviews I am not one to be lazy, I like to read up on the band; get into their psyche, see what makes them tick but with The Dahmers I do not need to and I am not entirely sure that I want to! With possibly the best ever press release about any band, how do I even better this when describing any band or record:
Much like the demons and monsters inhabiting our overactive imaginations, the marriage of horror and rock ’n’ roll is one that simply will not die, with these two eternal forces united in blood against adversity, common sense and the fickle mistress of fashion. Savage, wild and thoroughly compulsive, their second album In The Dead Of Night is a platter o’ splatter ready to take on the world
Believe me the blurb gets even better than that. To be honest I never do the research on any band until I have given the record a spin a few times, I like to listen to it without prejudice. Had I not read their press release I would have said exactly that (well maybe not so eloquently, but hey ho), but the point is The Dahmers are stupidly good. They are either the stupidest band you have ever come across or absolute geniuses and I am going to have to go for the latter.
This is the best rock and roll horror pop record you are going to hear this year. What do you mean it’s not exactly an overpopulated genre? Enter the spirit, this is one hell of a fun record. Imagine 60’s garage rock, The Hives, mix in a little bit of ghouls, horror, serial killers and insanely catchy pop songs and you simply will be nowhere near the genius of The Dahmers. They are better than this.
So, what do we know about The Dahmers? We know they are based in Sweden, that this is their second record after the excellent 2015 debut Demons. We know they like blood, gore, stalking, murders, the dead, the recently dead and those that have risen. We know that they love writing pop songs with a rock and roll flavour. I think their press photo of them all in skeleton costumes, giving us the finger and drinking beer about sums them up.
The opening two songs pretty much give you what you would expect. Instrumental “Dusk” is an 80’s horror trailer in the making and would not be out of place in Stranger Things especially with its 80’s Atari video game sound to it. It’s the perfect introduction to the Psycho-esque “Cut Me Down”, starting with actual psycho sounds, we have probably the only rock and roll song with an insanely catchy chorus about being cut down. It is the type of song that makes you want to dance around like a loon and the album is stuffed full of these gems. Kinda like a psychotic The Strokes.
On “Rat Boy” we are treated to a low crunchy blues-tinged guitar rhythm and I think one of the overriding factors on the album, that makes this work so well, is that at the basis of all their songs is a simple rock and roll formula, simple blues-style guitars, sped up rock and roll rhythm with the ability to write a short snappy song. Most songs consist of a couple of bridges, great choruses but The Dahmers also have these small blues, instrumental breaks throughout the songs like a great 50’s classic. For all their rock schmock horror they do not overfill the songs with lyrics or feels the need to be singing all the time but instead let the timelessness of their format take over and these boys can rock so you are in for a treat.
Another thing that will strike you about The Dahmers and the In The Dead of The Night especially is the contradiction. A deliberate contradiction, almost a deliberate misdirection of your senses (whilst they get up to no good no doubt). But this misdirection or contradiction, call it what you will, is not only disarming, but it is the type of disarmament that allows a band like The Dahmers to sneak into your subconsciousness and into your hearts. Take “I Wake Up Dead” – musically it has a light melody and really should be a 1950’s style boy meets girl love song. It’s not too slushy, just has that upbeat melody but instead lyrically in a typically sunny way we are treated to ‘What’s on your mind, nightmares I wake up in the night, I hear you scream’. All punctuated and timed to make you think light and fluffy whilst they are waking up the dead.
Without a doubt the main strength of The Dahmers is when they write their upbeat rock and roll numbers, and the debut album was full of them. What is a welcome addition to In The Dead of the Night is that the band have introduced even more variety into their songs and it works well. The slightly doomy, creepy and expansive “Cold Skin” is a change of pace and a welcome one. It creates a brilliant atmosphere; of being outside in a Hammer Horror graveyard and it’s strangely addictive and alluring. It has an emptiness to the song which draws you in, especially with the addition of the incidental music.
My favourite song on the album is without a doubt “Nightcrawler”. This is The Dahmers at their best. This song would not be out of place on a Superchunk album. It has that same pop punk mentality, it’s just four minutes of pure fun. You will be singing along to the chorus. It’s just a brilliant song from start to finish. The twist of course is that this is a song about being the ‘Nightcrawler’ out trawling the streets. How you can make a potentially dangerous situation, or a threat, into such fun is the beauty of The Dahmers and what makes this the best pop punk album you could buy this year.
So, do the Dahmers deliver on this their second long player? They do so and easily, the way this band can roll over a pop punk rock and roll tune is second to none. Add to the mix all the horror and fun of the 80’s horror films and you get simply great rock and roll and a whole lot of fun. Dress up as a skeleton, get rowdy, get drunk, play In the Dead of The Night, dance like a loon, raise the dead, trawl the streets, and annoy your neighbours and you are in for a hell of a night… and the sort of night this record deserves.
In The Dead of The Night is out now