November 7, 2002

Ed's Underground

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Go ahead, laugh at me, you elitist bastard. Yes, here I am reviewing a metal CD — no, I’m not doing it ironically, and no, I’m not doing it out of some misplaced nostalgia for my metalhead high school years. Dead As Dreams was the first and only album by this enigmatic band before they disappeared into obscurity. The album nearly didn’t even come out — the original plan was to bury a few copies and give out maps so customers could dig one up — so it’s not surprising that Weakling isn’t exactly a household name.

Not that hearing the record would convert most people. It’s a dark, ear-splitting wall of clattering drums, finger-bleeding chords, and indecipherable screamed vocals. Listen deeper, though, and you’ll get a lot more than the gut reaction of Tipper Gore hearing some (ooooh scary) loud music.

The album has a rich, icy undercurrent that, once it has a chance to sink in, begins to seem more important than the deafening top layer. Weakling taps ably into the fairy tale quality of all the best metal — not lyrically, because you can’t figure out a damn thing they’re saying, but in the soaring music.

Songs like “This Entire Fucking Battlefield” have a surprisingly melodic foundation lurking somewhere amid the hyper-paced guitars. All five songs here are epic, not just in length (they range from 10 to 20 minutes) but in structure; as in all truly great metal discs, there’s a deceptive complexity at play here far beyond the “whoa they play fast” factor. The intro to “Disasters in the Sun” lays off on assaulting riffs and rhythms, instead building slowly with textured, melodic guitar and drums to create a gloomy, frightening atmosphere.

Throughout, Weakling prove that this kind of atmosphere is their greatest weapon. Yes, they pummel you without remorse, but they also know how to soothe with subtlety. If you’re looking for a good place to start your journey to the darker side of rock, this record may just be it.

Archived article by Ed Howard