SUNFLOWER DEAD – It’s Time To Get Weird

It's Time To Get WeirdThe first thing that caught my eye was the cover. Sunflower Dead has taken Kiss’ Rock And Roll Over (1976) cover art and made it their own – different colours and the faces of the band instead of Kiss’. I think it’s really damn cool, but don’t be surprised if Gene Simmons shows up at your door with a big, fat bill for you to pay. The second thing I noticed was the band themselves. Turns out that Sunflower Dead are no jeans and t-shirt band – no, this band is putting on a show for sure. Think about mixing Slipknot with Heath Ledger’s version of The Joker in Batman and you’re getting pretty close. I don’t know about you, but I have a weak spot for bands with a strong image. Not because I believe that their music will be better because of it, but because I just love when musicians put that little extra in there, that they want to give an audience something more than just the music. Music – and rock especially – is visual, I mean even bands that has a reputation for being non-image, like the Rolling Stones and AC/DC, do have an image and very often a huge stage show and I just love that. You can always listen to the album at home and for that, image is of no importance, but if you go to a show, you pay to both watch and listen and when I’m there, I want something that satisfies both my eyes and my ears. Nikki Sixx once said that a strong image and a huge show will never make a bad show good, but it can make a good show better and yes, he’s so right in that. Now, I have never seen Sunflower Dead play – Hell, I had never even heard of them before I got the e-mail with the link to the album – but I can bet they will kick your ass visually. The band hails from Long Beach, California and have been together since 2012 when they released their debut self-titled album. The members of the band are: Michael Del Pizzo – vocals, accordion (an instrument he actually plays live!), piano,  Jaboo – lead guitar,  Jamie Teissere – guitar, Leighton “Lats” Kearns – bass and Jimmy Schultz – drums. The name Sunflower Dead has its own, pretty interesting story, so here’s a copy/paste from their home page:

Sometime ago, in a rural town, 5 murdered boys were found disemboweled and laid out in a field.  For some unknown reason, four of the five boy’s eyes were torn out with dead sunflowers placed in their place.  A note was found in the victim’s hand who had retained his eyes saying “These murders represent the true evil you all refuse to see”. When word of the murders got out, the press dubbed these five children “The Sunflower Dead”.  No assailant was ever brought to justice in this case.  After some time, strange occurences began happening where people would find members of their community horrifically murdered with freshly cut sunflowers placed over their eyes. The lore began that these 5 boys, due to the swelling energy leftover from their own brutal death, came back to avenge all those who are purveyors are true evil. These five undead vigilantes are on a mission to destroy evil with evil.  They are summoned by the energy of those whose innocence is in jeopardy due to the acts of the depraved.  The end game of these undead souls, through their own horrific acts, is finding their peace that was thrown into a tailspin at the moment of their own untimely murders. Unknowingly, these undead vigilantes are a piece of an ongoing Universal Rapture to cleanse the world of its original sin.  Their reward for what seems like an unending sentence of walking the earth in limbo, ridding the world of evil doers, leads them to a confrontation with not only who committed their murders but why. It is at this moment that these five are finally given a chance at the true peace that was stolen from them so long ago…

And by those words, we sink our teeth into the guys’ brand new record. “Inhuman Being” that opens the album is a accordion based intro that is so short I just don’t get the point in making it a song of its own, it could just have been a part of the following song – and first single – “Dance With Death” instead. “Dance With Death” on the other hand is a killer tune, heavy and dark yet melodic and catchy. There are melodic rock, grunge and metal all in one here and one band I immediately start to think about is Lillian Axe, the modern Lillian Axe of today, that is. Great stuff! The title track boasts with Jonathan Davis of Korn guesting on vocals. There is a Korn influence in the song, but I also hear quite a lot of Disturbed. The mix of the two works really well. “Just A Little Kiss” should be single # 2. The song is so catchy it’s ridiculous. It has a big Disturbed influence and it’s a really heavy number, but the melodies are so memorable and it’s almost impossible to get the song out of my head once listened to. “You’re Dead To Me” is a good song, but a bit too heavy on the American radio rock side – it really doesn’t do that much for me. “Nothing” on the other hand is amazing. It’s a ballad and even though I have a hard time picturing these guys going all power ballad on us, it is exactly what they done with this song. It starts out with only piano and vocals, but gets heavier along the way – like a metal power ballad. I’d release this as a single as well if I was them – big hit potential! “My Mother Mortis” is brilliant as well. It’s a slower tune, not really a ballad, but it is on the borderland. But it is a heavy and dark piece of  music and there is a Black Sabbath influence in there as well. It’s a bit modern at times, but at the same time with a big classic rock and metal vibe. “I’ll Burn It” is another cool tune. It has a modern hard rock groove and it touches agro-metal at times, but with a really sticky melody. With “The Rain” they go all pop on us – it is pure pop, really – but with a dark and heavy arrangement, kind of like Slipknot meets Disturbed in a pop orgy. Gotta love it! “Interlude” has a title that self explanatory, it’s an interlude, short and pretty pointless. Again, I don’t get its purpose and it could might as well be tied together with the following track.  Which is called “Through The Blackest Eyes”, a hard, heavy and dark metal track with a distinct melody and some Iron Maiden influenced guitars – yes, this is very good, guys! The last “real” song on the record is called “Anthem Of The Seeds” and is an awesome tune. A bit melancholic, it still has a big load of catchiness, it’s heavy hard rock with lots of pop in it and it really makes you wanna play the record all over again. The outro called “Outro” is another pointless tune and again, I really don’t get the purpose.

Song wise, this album is a real killer, but sound wise, it leans a bit too much against modern American radio rock which, to tell you the truth, is getting a bit old. Also, I think the production lacks some dynamics, not that it is un-dynamic (is that really a word??), I just feel that there could be more punch in the sound, especially on the drums. The Disturbed influence also feels kind of obvious, but that do not really bother me much – I think Disturbed are a great band anyway. A little more identity could be useful, but they sure do kick bands like Five Finger Death Punch in the butt 24/7. Still, I’m a sucker for a killer song and killer songs they have so don’t let their image scare you away from giving these boys a shot. I mean, their image might be a bit too much and I do believe their clown-ish image might not be all for their benefit. But if you like your metal with a great chorus, memorable melodies and more hooks than a fisherman’s cabin, then I’d suggest you check this lot out. Maybe not the most original sound in the world, but the great songs makes up for that all the way through!

8/10

Tracklist:

1. Inhuman Lung
2. Dance With Death
3. It’s Time To Get Weird
4. Just A Little Kiss
5. You’re Dead To Me
6. Nothing
7. My Mother Mortis
8. I’ll Burn It
9. The Rain
10. Interlude
11. Through The Blackest Eyes
12. Anthem Of The Seeds
13. Outro

Advertisements