Jan 2022 03

Album CoverBellhead
Album: Dead Lights EP
Category: Post-punk / Coldwave
Label: Oppressive Sky Records
Release Date: 2021-07-16


Marking the duo’s second EP release, Dead Lights sees Bellhead further establishing a very singular and brand of post-punk that is as cold as the band’s Chicago home in wintertime. As on last year’s Unicorn Bones EP, the interplay of Karen Righeimer’s low and guttural grooves with Ivan Russia’s higher, grittier register and his sparse infusion of light electronics creates a distinct ambience that at times evokes a slightly gothic or horror-themed tone. Indeed, the band had covered Bauhaus’ “Sanity Assassin” as a standalone single, so it’s perhaps no surprise that “The River” takes on a chord progression not dissimilar from that band’s “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” albeit played at a more languid tempo that gives it a swampy blues vibe, although the almost jazzy cadence along with Russia’s disaffected vocal could also remind some of the less dramatic works of Trent Reznor. The same can be said of “Nothing As It Seems,” its pulsating electronics and somewhat bouncy breakbeats providing a frigid backdrop for Righeimer’s mocking chant in the bridge, the Mellotron-esque strings adding to the song’s disconcerting atmosphere, while her voice gets a touch sinister and sultry in “Frankenstein,” with Russia’s manic piano accompaniment and distorted harmonic fills as seething as any regular guitar riff. The subtle vocal effects in “Mercy” in tandem with the shrill howling of pads give the opening “Mercy” a rather grimy foreboding, leaving “Dead Letter” to conclude Dead Lights in a conspicuously slow and sludgy manner. Once again, Bellhead’s particularly bass-driven style could so easily falter if not for the mix by Neil Strauch and mastering by Carl Saff to accentuate the pair’s dual-bass assault. The band’s overall output may be somewhat spacious, and Dead Lights only clocks in at just over 18 minutes, but it’s a sharply focused and deliberately measured EP that continues to beckon more to come from Bellhead.
Track list:

  1. Mercy
  2. Nothing As It Seems
  3. The River
  4. Frankenstein
  5. Dead Letter

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Oppressive Sky Records
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Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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