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Dance With The Dead, Near Dark

01-02-2015 | By Jimmy Bustillos | Issue 77


Imagine this, it is 1986, your girlfriend/boyfriend has been kidnapped, people out there are trying to kill you, and you can only rely on yourself for protection. So you jump into your red and black Trans AM, with your black leather jacket and gloves, with nothing but vengeful intent to rescue and redeem your name. Then, you haul ass into the sunset, never looking back.

The scenario I've just described is only a part of what this album achieves to the listener as the dark synth-wave electronica plays into your eardrums. I remember being a kid in the late eighties/early nineties and seeing all the Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Jean Claude Van-Damme movies. Every time they played I thought to myself how great of a feeling it was to see them go out into the sunset, preparing themselves for a fight of their life, and then the montage sets in. What made me want to be exactly like them in that instant was no doubt related to the music playing as they made their way to badassery. Muscles, cool cars, and a kill or be killed attitude was something to look up to, but without the music, it just would not fit.

In comes the band Dance With The Dead with their album Near Dark. It covers every heavy synth filled aspect of those great car chases and the fight scene music of the eighties. The band is made up of two men, Justin Pointer and Tony Kim and together, they capture the eighties synth pop and electronica movement that developed in that era. Their music is all fully eighties themed and done without being supremely cheesy.

Near Dark actually reflects great composition on part of both Justin Pointer and Tony Kim. This can be heard in the song "Eye of the Storm." The song displays tonality that vibrates and sways in a very ethereal experience. The sounds of strings in the background contrasted by the visceral vibration of the bass lines as it gets heavier with each progression, yet never losing its strong depth in orchestral arrangement. It definitely stands out as you progress through the album and I feel shows a great strength in their musical ability as producers.

The song "Near Dark" is another great track that starts in with a melodic synth beat as a heavy kick drum proceeds to play. The bass line on this track is one example of the ongoing motion-melody produced heavily in eighties songs. Although, they distort and display it as a heavy backdrop while other heavy melodies play in. Eventually, you will hear a nice ghostly vocal accompaniment while heavy guitars gradually slide in to bring the song to full circle. For some reason it reminds me of what Bach or Beethoven might play had they lived until the eighties.

The first track called "Invader" sets the mood for what the album will showcase as you go through each track. Very deep, melodic, and heavy beats with a lot of blood rushing momentum that keeps you on the edge of your toes. The slower parts on the album would be noted as the parts where you, as the character, can catch your breath as you go from fight to drive. A model example of where "Invader" would fit, is any eighties Japanese animation. Then again, "Dressed To Kill" would be another great driving edge of your seat song in any eighties Japanese animation.

Another great track is "The Pitt," and I simply cannot get over how great this song is. It starts off with a deep trace melody and then suddenly drops in a heavy vibrato synth beat. As the melody progresses, the duo producers interplay with the main melody panning back and forth. As the beat goes a little deeper, that is when the real show starts; a heavy guitar brings in the missing piece of the puzzle and rips into the beat. Every time I hear the song, I just keep waiting for the guitar part to come back and keep on playing. Their soloing is never too much, but it almost seems like it is never enough. The album feels like a mixture of Metallica and Kavinsky, but that is just a generalization. There is some Van Halen thrown in there and some Giorgio Moroder as well.

Overall, Near Dark is a great album from start to finish. If you are driving into the sunset, over the mountains, and past the ocean, then this album would be a sure hit in making you feel majestic and alive. In retrospect, it might just make you want to drive off the mountain because of how much adrenaline it's pumping into your blood. Strap yourself in folks, put on your leather fingerless gloves, and forget about the brakes because where we are going there are no roads. On that note, 10 out of 10 in my book, so check it out. For now, "Hasta la vista, baby".