Deadlock have always been a standout band to me. There are a lot of bands that utilise harsh male vocals and clean melodic female vocals but Deadlock have the mix just right. The sweetness of Sabine’s vocals just contrasts fantastically with their ex-vocalist Joe’s harsh growls, so when it was announced that he was leaving to be replaced by John, who had previously played bass for the band, I was a little nervous about how Deadlock’s new material would sound – but it turns out that I had no reason to be!
The Arsonist is Deadlock’s first release with John taking up vocalist duties and to say that he fills Joe’s shoes perfectly would be an understatement – it almost feels like he has always been the vocalist for them and he seems to have more emotion in his performances.
As opening track The Great Pretender kicked in, I had to admit that I did feel a little apprehensive at first, as the introduction sounded almost identical to Virus Jones, one of the tracks on their previous album, but once the vocals kicked in it does diverge a little. The track itself is good, with a perfect sing-along chorus, but it almost felt like a recycled idea which is never the best way to start an album – it possibly would have worked better in the middle of the album.
I’m Gone is the second track, which has also been released as a single and it’s clear why. With strong and intense harsh vocals, and a beautiful memorable chorus, this is one of the standout tracks of the album, and one that you will keep revisiting on each listen of the release! Indeed, the track that follows this, Dead City Sleepers, is another fantastic track. What I like about this track is the clean chorus backed up with the harsh screams of “dead city sleepers!” after each line of it.
Unsurprisingly, The Arsonist is probably the best track of the album – no doubt this is why they chose to name the album after this song. I adore the opening of Sabine singing “fire” repeatedly before the full track kicks in. Upon first glance, this track appears to be one of the more melodic ones, but once John’s unclean vocals kicks in, it is definitely one of the noisier ones – really contrasting the two voices together. The ending also works perfectly, with the group vocals singing the words “The Arsonist” before fading out. A truly brilliant track.
Hurt is a quietly beautiful song, stunning and laid-back ballad, very different in comparison to the other noisier tracks of the album. It really shows what a versatile and strong voice that Sabine really has when put on her own, and what is good is that it is a really accessible song – maybe a good pathway for people to get into Deadlock after hearing what a beautifully melodic voice their female frontwoman has! The inclusion of the full band at the end was a nice touch also.
The Final Storm gives John a chance to shine, with this track only featuring vocals from him. I really adored the opening where he used a different vocal style and this track really showcases the stamina and strength behind his harsh vocals and even features some clean background vocals. Some people may look on John as being the “other vocalist” but this track just proves them all wrong and shows just how awesome he really is.
The penultimate track is a cover of Bronski Beat‘s Smalltown Boy, a track I didn’t actually realise was a cover until the distinctive guitar riff kicked in. This is maybe not the first choice that would spring to mind when thinking of a song that Deadlock would cover but it just seem to work for them. Honestly, my jaw dropped the first I heard it – it is a truly unique take on the track and I can’t sing its praises enough. Just, wow.
The album finishes with a track entitled My Pain, which is a little bit of a mini epic. Starting off slow, it rounds off the album in true style as it builds in tempo for the chorus sections which mixed clean and harsh vocals together.
To conclude, The Arsonist is definitely one of the best releases by Deadlock, if not the best. If you’ve never listened to this band, then this album is definitely a good place to start – trust me, you won’t be disappointed!