Naming yourself after a Cryptopsy song is a pretty good indication of where you aim on the spectrum of death metal. Thankfully, however, Dead and Dripping isn’t a carbon copy of the band which inspired their moniker but seeks inspiration in a variety of places and while the fusion of ideas isn’t wholly original – nor does it need to be – the resulting output is equal parts refreshing and harrowing.
With a title like Blackened Cerebral Rifts, one should expect a little bit of heady atmosphere to go along with all that gloom that rears its head in those three words. Well, as expected there is a layer of psychedelia that weaves its way through each song on this record but not to a degree that interferes with the brutality that one hopes for on a record such as this. “Aural Interference With Uncanny Subconscious Frequencies” sees Evan Daniele – the act’s sole member – reaching into the rift and pulling out some incredible ideas that build as the song progresses across its five minutes integrate the haze that permeates the album with the tech death riffs that feel toxic and suffocating.
Given that this is a one-person band with a sole member holding down every aspect of the album, there is some expected synergy between the instruments and that certainly comes through with guitars, bass, and drums all firing off in perfect sync. While it can be tough to pick favorite (or least favorite) performances when there’s only one person behind each instrument, one aspect of this record that stands out is the drumming. Perhaps that perfectly pingy snare that cuts through the din helps draw an ear to it, but there is undeniable charm as well as expertise behind the kit. I don’t intend to knock those one-member bands that use programmed drums but it is refreshing when a real kit is felt on a record such as this. You’ve probably also heard Evan’s drumming on a few Sentient Horror albums, since that is another band in which they hold the sticks.
Aside from the slick drumming, cool themes, instrumental synergy, and oppressive atmosphere, there are other aspects that feel impressive, regardless of how many people are in the band. “Kaleidoscopic Visions Of Porous Obsidian Eternities” is one such song that highlights another strong point of Dead and Dripping: the vocals. There is a lot of variety on display from the cavernous growl, to the throaty snarls, to the low gurgle that is usually heard from bands that feature Will Smith as the vocalist, such as Reeking Aura or Afterbirth. The way that the vocals are placed within the album’s mix are often surprising as well, such as on “Molecular Degradation Upon Warped Onyx Stoves” where a low gargle scrapes the top layer of the song and reveals itself only when the instruments take a breath. While this is a simple trick it gave me the feeling that something was just creeping toward me and I would have succumbed had I not noticed it. It’s a simple – and perhaps unintentional – trick but the effect was profound.
If there is a qualm with Blackened Cerebral Rifts, it would be the rather mid and high favoring production. The bass is certainly audible during the songs but there is a general lack of low end elsewhere in the instruments. The approach does settle in eventually but when contrasted to other albums in the genre it can be a little bit painful to get into, unless of course, this is your favorite approach. It by no means ruins the experience but it can be jarring when pressing play for the first time.
Dead and Dripping have been in the game only a few short years but there is a clarity of vision that is pervasive throughout Blackened Cerebral Rifts and that vision is horror. And riffs, of course. From the delightfully absurd song titles, a tight runtime, gorgeous album art, and impressive performances on every instrument and mic, it would be a shame if it got lost in the shuffle of the seemingly endless supply of tech death albums on hand. What sets Dead and Dripping apart, however, is the singularity with which they ply their trade.