Dead Soul Alliance – Behind the Scenes Review

I’ve soaked up more death metal in 2021 than in the past five years combined. Why? Hard to say exactly. Perhaps the combination of an unending pandemic and the generally chaotic state of world affairs helped rekindle my love of the extreme and ugly side of metal. The Ottawa-based duo behind Dead Soul Alliance also prefer things ugly and extreme. On their full-length debut Behind the Scenes, they’ve conjured the worst angels of old school death metal, going hard for the heavy and unpleasant without entirely forsaking hooks and memorable dynamics. Featuring Wolven Deadsoul of Expunged on guitar, vocals, and bass, Dead Soul Alliance are not out to reinvent, reframe or revise the death metal experience. Instead, they use all the expected genre tropes and ropes to hammer you into rolls of compliant jelly. If you happen to enjoy the process along the way, all the better for everybody. Commence the jelly rolling.

The opening title track abuse session is savage, blasty, and maniacal, offering up pounding, frantic drumming and gurgling grotesqueries aplenty. It’s primal and aggressive, almost like a Deeds of Flesh ditty, but as it rolls along, just enough melody and harmony creep in, including a few riffs that sound like something off Amorphis’ underrated The Karelian Isthmus debut. It makes for a satisfying if not groundbreaking dose of death and clues you in on what awaits. Elsewhere a Swedeath influence is front and center on “Screams for the Asylum” and “Mental Comatose.” While these cuts are decent, it’s the less Swedish-influenced numbers that cut deepest. “Behold Forever Darkness” brings back those old-timey Amorphis riffs before erupting into something like a more rancid, blast-intensive Asphyx. You even get some vaguely Martin van Drunen-esque vocals appearing for added crypt flair. “Equilibrium Dead” stands out due to its weighty mid-tempo chuggery which feels like it would really hurt if dropped on an unprotected toe. “Upon Their Return” adds a modern Cannibal Corpse influence to the stew with positive results and the unrelenting, pummeling riffs are big, dumb caveman fun. It’s 100% utilitarian deadlifting death metal all day and it would probably work fine at night too, though there’s nothing new or unique going on.

And that’s the biggest knock that can be levied against Dead Soul Alliance. This is pretty much stock standard death with digits shoved rudely in various eras of the genre, but nothing new or especially interesting ever results. It’s competent, heavy, and satisfying, but it’s not essential or overly compelling. At a short, concise 34 minutes, you get a decent collection of odes to nastiness and the editing is tight enough to keep things moving. Yet I don’t see myself spinning this a lot in the future when they are so many other options out there, including Wolven’s own Expunged.

Speaking of Mr. Deadsoul, he does a fine job croaking and groaning his way across the splatter of Behind the Scenes. He has the kind of death metal voice I appreciate and he adds a greasy, gross sheen to the already murky proceedings. His riffing is mostly based in the Swedish scene with plenty of Entombed and Dismember-isms cropping up, but you hear nods to various other schools of death, and by and large, he delivers an effective collection of corpse disturbing leads. His eerie, jangled solo-work is also tasty. The drumming by E.H. is at times workmanlike but always respectable, and his tooth-loosening blasts are good, violent fun.

Considering my favorable impression of related project Expunged, I wanted to like Behind the Scenes. In fact, I do like it. I just don’t like it enough. It’s rock-solid death metal with enough raw power and heaviness, and none of the tracks feel like filler or throwaways, but I need a bit more bang for my death buck than what’s going on Behind the Scenes. Onward to the next death pit!

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Bitter Loss
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 3rd, 2021

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