Slack to the Future
There’s an old and inaccurate joke: Why is Ireland such a wealthy country? Because the capital is always Dublin! Well, Ireland is not so wealthy, and similarly, Bay Area supergroup Dublin Death Patrol is not automatically better than others of their ilk on account of featuring twice the musicians of other thrash bands, or because they are led by two of the genre’s heyday frontmen. Chuck Billy (Testament) and Steve Souza (Exodus) struggle between trying to capture an old sound and developing something new on Death Sentence.
The album begins promisingly enough. “Mind Sewn Shut” starts with a brief mellow guitar intro that launches into a mosh-inducing driving beat, and for a second you think it is 1988. The question of the day was: How would these two vocalists play off one another? Billy replaced Souza in the mid 80’s (when the band was called Legacy). At the time, both singers posessed a mid-level melodic growl, capable of delivering strong hooks in the midst of volume. However, in DDP, a conscious decision was made for Chuck Billy to handle the deeper growls and Souza the higher. The result is more faux-death metal than classic thrash. In addition, the presence of extra musicians (anywhere between seven and eleven band members) is unnecessary. Four guitarists do the job of two.
High points on the album come when the singers meet in the middle of their ranges, where they are obviously more comfortable. “Blood Sirens” catches the listener’s attention and holds it for the whole song. Album closer “Butcher Baby” is the most successful song on Death Sentence, mixing punk simplicity with the straight-forward drive found on other tracks. At times, the music holds up well to both singers’ former bands, but in the end, Chuck and Steve probably should have stuck to what they did best, even if it was decades ago.