Manchester metalcore connoisseurs The Dead XIII are back – this time with an album set to keep the horror-metal genre alive and kicking in the UK. The album follows their 2015 debut Catacombs, which was critically acclaimed by the likes of Kerrang!, Powerplay Magazine, and Pure Grain Audio. But their latest record Dark Days – released February 9 – packs even more of a punch, delving deeper into a crevasse of metal not explored by the fainthearted.
The band has existed on the North West music scene since 2013 – gaining a reputation for their shock rock sound, and completing successful tours with Farewell, My Love, Ashestoangels, and Doyle from The Misfits. Nothing has slowed down for them since – their experience both on tour and in a recording booth culminating in what is their most mature and technically flawless release to date.
Dark Days covers themes you’d expect both from the band’s past and from the album’s title – exploring physiological horrors, where the real enemy doesn’t manifest physically but lurks in the shadows of your mind. Their distinctive riffs and bold synths compliment the sentiment, dressing their macabre words in a sound which oozes fierce gloom.
Speaking of lead single ‘Bloodlines’, the band said: “We’ve been playing this song live now for around a year and the response to it has been incredible – the song sets the scene for the album perfectly.”
As promised, the track kicks the album off as they mean to go on, with well-placed synths and considered vocals from the very start. Vocalist Kurt Blackshard juxtaposes raw, gruff vocals with very polished production – creating a very deliberately abnormal tone.
The rest of Dark Days follows a similar theme – incredible riffs and calculated lyrics pushing through synth and just the right amount of obscurity throughout ‘Dark Days’, ‘Last Stand’, ‘Killers’ , and ‘Angels.’
In fact, the tone doesn’t slow down at all until the penultimate track ‘Curtain Call’ – a shorter instrumental effort with a much calmer undertone, starting bringing the album to a well-earned soft close after the fierce explosion which was Dark Days. That is until the very last track, ‘From Beyond’, immediately picks up the tempo again.
This music might not be for everyone, but the band clearly know who they are catering for with Dark Days, and it’s an audience who will want to hear this album on repeat for the rest of the year. The Dead XIII may be single-handedly keeping the horror-metal genre alive in the UK.