My summer quest for scrumptious retro metal is almost at an end. It has taken me far and wide, usually with poor, and at best middling, results. It has been a quest of dissatisfaction, to the point where I will soon be turning my nose at any retro promo that is pushed under my prison door at AMG Headquarters. My last kick at the cat will be the latest from this group of miscreants who call themselves Dead Lord. In Ignorance We Trust is the Swedish outfit’s third release, and when the promo yearns for the heyday of Thin Lizzy, features songwriting influenced by LSD, hopelessness, and drunk nights in the studio, and mocks man-buns, I’ll take a stab at it. I mean, what can possibly go wrong?
What do Dead Lord have going for them? Well for starters, singer/guitarist Hakim Krim has the best hair/mustache combo this side of Gabe Kaplan in his Welcome Back, Kotter days. However, Krim’s larger-than life appearance and over-the-top vocal phrasing will be polarizing: at times it comes off as borderline satire. After several listens, though, I found myself coming down on the positive side. The guy’s got a certain charisma about him that really suits the music. He can definitely sing when he puts his mind to it, but often his odd phrasing can come off as gimmicky, taking away from what is otherwise some excellent hard rock. Surf/LSD-tinged “The Glitch” is a great example, a super-cool song with a far-out arrangement and even farther-out vocals. Well, most of the songs exhibit this trait, so we shouldn’t really single out one or two. But he tones it down on the ballad “Part of Me,” which isn’t the best song here but is his best vocal.
It doesn’t hurt that Dead Lord are a helluva band, with crack musicians and solid songwriting chops. Opening track “Ignorance,” a thinly-veiled diatribe regarding a certain world power’s political situation, has a sweet, simple groove that’s more infectious than syphilis in the middle ages. It’s our first introduction to Krim’s vocal histrionics, which at first put me off, but much like the groove it eventually won me over. “Ignorance” also features something that is prevalent throughout In Ignorance We Trust, and that is a killer solo. I’m not sure how many solos are from “left-side guitarist” Krim, and how many are from “right-side guitarist” Olle Hedenström, but whoever it is they know how to arrange their solos with the best of ‘em. Case in point: album closer “Darker Times,” with one of the best solos I’ve heard all year. Not just a wankfest, but actual tasteful solos – refreshing!
In Ignorance We Trust isn’t going to appeal to all the dads out there, though. As mentioned, Krim’s singing style will put off more than a few, and while the good songs are really good, there are still a few duds taking up space here. Luckily, not a single one of the ten songs breaks the five-minute mark, so the band knows when to shut things down, but “Never Die” comes across as an attempt at epicness that misses the mark, and the simmering acoustic number “Part of Me” feels too serious for the rest of the record — it does have a great solo, though.
These quibbles aren’t enough to turn me off what is otherwise the best retro rock album I’ve heard this summer. Solid songwriting, impeccably arranged guitar solos, and top-notch production all add up to an album that’s finding its way into my playlist more than I initially thought it would. Much like his massive hairdo and handlebar ‘stache, Krim’s vocals might be too much for some, but if you like your rock old and the vocals don’t turn you off, Dead Lord’s In Ignorance We Trust will satisfy your antiquated cravings.