PICK OF THE WEEK: Deadbird soar back with transcendent doom on ‘III: The Forest Within the Tree’

Photo by Adam Peterson

When the lineup was announced for this past July’s Migration Fest, it contained your expected hard hitters that dot the Gilead Media and 20 Buck Spin rosters, as well as the curveball picks that really could not have been anticipated and added even more excitement to the festivities. One of those bands was Deadbird, a group many likely thought was gone and buried.

It was a surprise because it has been a decade since their last record, their sophomore effort “Twilight Ritual,” and it was great to know the band would be unearthing those southern-friend doom jams that had influenced many other musicians and always sounded welcome in just about any setting. But the big surprise dropped right before the festival when 20 Buck Spin announced they would be releasing the band’s long-awaited third record “III: The Forest Within the Tree,” an album that we’re just a week away from having in our hands. Those who have followed the band over their decade-and-a-half existence are bound to have their hearts filled with joy, as Deadbird once again soars amid the hazy doom for which they’re known. The band—Alan Short (guitar/vocals), Chuck Schaaf (guitar/vocals) Jeff Morgan (bass/vocals), Reid Raley (bass/vocals), Chris Terry (synth/samples/vocals), and Phillip Schaaf (drums)— is comprised of members of other noted groups including Rwake, Ash of Cedars, Story of the Eye, Seahag, and more, and they sound as alive and transcendent as ever before.

“The Singularity” opens the record and lets you ease in a bit, as spacey wooshes and acoustics meet, and the line, “It’s taken some time to climb out the other side,” almost seems like the explanation for their long time away. “Luciferous Heart” then arrives and makes the blood drive through your veins, as riffs rush, the track blasts emotionally, and gruff singing paves the way toward your soul. Things ease and enter the cosmos before the track hits a sludgy high, as the band thrashes away, wild cries reach out, and things come to a bubbling close. “Heyday” picks up the intensity from there, bursting through the clouds as guitars chug, the vocals glide through smoke and fires, and the humidity thickens. Acoustic passages bring cool air, injecting a sense of ease before the guitars light up again, going ablaze, while the back end is a calculated push into the unknown. “Alexandria” follows with guitars buzzing, throaty growls, and cries of, “Where corruption calls!” that stretch over a great chorus. From there, the cut churns and burn, leaving its soot behind.

“11:34” is an instrumental cut that has ominous bass at the front before noise simmers and woodsy noises color in the background. Birds chirp as we hit the swamps, leaving the song there to ring out into the dusk. “Brought Low” buzzes and plods, giving off an Alice in Chains feel from their acoustic packages. The cut then rips up and gets harsh, with a wailing, blistering chorus that rages with emotions. The pace halts later, letting some steam from the room, before everything picks up again and comes to a volatile end. “Bone and Ash” has gritty, chewy riffs and harsh cries, as the atmosphere is cavernous and heavy, and cool southern licks arrive for added seasoning. The song then begins to obliterate everything around it, as the band thrashes, the low-end rumbles hard, and yowled growls and shrieks rain down over the smothering ending. Closer “Ending” is an instrumental exit that’s frosty and has strange tones calling out, as guitars loop before its essence fades away.

I guess maybe it’s not all that metal to say you’re utterly joyous in midst of a band’s music, but even in their darkest, Deadbird always have been a band that took me to another emotional level. “III: The Forest Within the Tree” is a triumphant return for a band we haven’t heard from in quite some time, and their presence adds a refreshing element to heavy music we don’t get too often. Hopefully this record is widely embraced in the way it should and opens up this great band to more and more ears.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Deadbird1332

To buy the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/search?type=product&q=deadbird

For more on the label, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/