ALBUM: Death Spells – Nothing Above, Nothing Below

Release Date: July 29th 2016
Label: Vagrant Records


Death Spells are an ‘electro-noise’ outfit formed from the creative mind of My Chemical Romance rhythm guitarist Frank Iero. If you’re expecting to find arena-sized anthems full of saccharine choruses and melodic breaks then you may want to steer clear of debut record ‘Nothing Above, Nothing Below’. The band were due to release this body of work back in 2013 until other commitments interfered, but three years later they’re now ready to unleash the record onto the unassuming public.

Make no mistake, this is one of the hardest to listen to records you’ll experience this year. After focusing on the eerie industrial-tinged spoken word intro on ‘Diluted’, the band steamroller into ‘Why Is Love So Disastrous’ and ‘Hate Unconditional’, the latter of the two tracks fusing a slightly catchy rhythm section with industrial euro-dance electronica with hushed vocals. A blend of Fear Factory and Rammstein certainly comes into the forefront early on.

‘Choke On One Another’ includes some vicious vocals towards the end of the track, whereas ‘Where Are My Fucking Pills?’ is predominantly a drum and bass track which is 90% instrumental and desperately attempting to latch onto The Prodigy and Pendulum in its appeal. Given the fact that not a single guitar was used in the production of this record is of no surprise when trying to unpick the layers of electronic confusion present, although the band have to be admired for creating levels of heaviness without this fundamental instrument.

What is clear when attempting to listen to the album is just how misdirected and confused the band appear to be. It’s quite difficult to liken the band to any others and whilst they have elements of some of the aforementioned bands in this review, the lack of memorable songs is the one thing that protrudes the most. ‘Hypnotic Spells’ is a classic example of this and pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin. A full on trance-like electronic background tone floats through the duration of the track with no real direction or diversity whatsoever. It just sounds like a mess.

It’s not all bad news though. ‘End Of Life’ tones down the abrasiveness somewhat, delivering a slightly chilled and haunting undertone with twinkling sound effects combined with some heavy doom-laden guitar parts and crashing drums, while ‘Fantastic Bastards’ showcases the first true bit of melody in the vocals on the record producing an almost anthemic output.

The production of this record doesn’t help with the scattergun approach to Death Spell’s music and only serves to confuse the listener further. If you’re willing to listen to something that is slightly out of the ordinary and ready for a dance club dancefloor then give this a try, but fans of Iero’s other projects should steer well clear.

Written by Neil Criddle (@DJCriddz)