Even in this day and age of “look at me” social media band promotion, you occasionally come across a group that is a complete mystery, which can leave you to consume the music and the music alone. With DEATHDRIFT, we’re left with nothing except the members with the initials DS and SH, and the album Liminal Nocturnes. Yes, we know they’re from Germany, but not much else. So, any preconceived notions are absent, and we’ve a clean slate to understand what makes the DEATHDRIFT sound – like a blind date where you hope the meal is good, the conversation is better, with no expectations.
With the opening adventure of “The Veins of God,” we get hints of who might be some of the band’s influences. We hear the poundings of early Godflesh, Nurse with Wound, and Swans. We hear dissonance and tortured crooning drawing influence from a host of European vocalists and experimental noise and ambience that could be from your favorite foreign horror flick. And we get plenty of creepy symphonics. One thing that does stand out about DEATHDRIFT is that the band is not interested in creating dancefloor anthems. DEATHDRIFT writes music to be listened to in a dark room with headphones, requiring one’s undisturbed attention. “Grey Heavens of Bytom” will never be played back-to-back with a VNV Nation track at your local coffin club, but it could prove to be your own soundtrack for a drive at night to nowhere on a bad day. That isn’t to say there isn’t some semblance of melody to sink your teeth into. “Be Sacrifice” might grind its gears through low-end rumble and mechanical drones, but DEATHDRIFT shows its vocal diversity with a familiar gothic tone as the track builds to a fever pitch of an overwhelming, distorted orchestra. And the group continues to find a balance between these ideals for the better part of the disc.
On “Rise (Spirit of the Depth),” as the song builds with haunting vocal phrases and sparse atmosphere, it makes room for the sections of enormous stomping drums and guitars, as if a group like Aborym or Decree kicked down the door and wanted to contribute some industrial/metal madness. DEATHDRIFT is crafty enough to avoid verse/chorus arrangements, but instead bounces back-and-forth from quiet cleans to crushing, impactful dynamics to keep things interesting. For some people, this style of music can be hard to follow as the lack of riffs or hooks can restrain any of the nine tracks from being 100% distinguishable from the next. But for DEATHDRIFT, the mission seems to be the album as a whole and not just one standout hit – a full cover-to cover listening experience over single tracks for quick digestion. If you have the time, shut the blinds, turn the lights low, and put the headphones on. DEATHDRIFT goes against the grain and lets the music speak for itself.