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Dead Soul Tribe: A Murder of Crows

"You are one twisted fuck." So goes the final line of "The Messenger," one of 12 intoxicating tracks on A Murder of Crows, the second album from the modern progressive-metal outfit Deadsoul Tribe. That description just about sums up front man Devon Graves, who based this thematic record's songs on the following question: "If it's true that crows are carrying the souls of dead people into the beyond, then what happens with the souls of those people whom the crows didn't manage to get there?"

Trying to describe A Murder of Crows is as difficult as making sense of that question. And that's the point. Poetic lyrics mix with musical devices ranging from acoustic guitars and multiple vocals to aggressive metal that wouldn't sound out of place on college radio. (Indeed, anxiety-ridden opening track "Feed Part I: Stone By Stone" is already garnering airplay in some cities.) "I'm Not Waving" boasts chunky King's X-style riffing and arrangements while "Black Smoke and Mirrors" and "Feed Part II: The Awakening" come alive with Jethro Tull-caliber flute passages. One of the album's most accessible tracks, "Regret," mingles a tinkling piano and crushing power chords with distant yet warm voices.

Less schizophrenic and more mature than Deadsoul Tribe's self-titled 2002 debut, A Murder of Crows finds Graves the alter ego of Buddy Lackey, former leader of the progressive band Psychotic Waltz holding listeners captive by creating atmospheric tension that dances with uncommon melodies and surreal imagery that will provoke all kinds of bizarre thoughts.

At the time of its release, I considered Deadsoul Tribe's debut an advancement of the prog-metal genre. But A Murder of Crows stands as a musical monument to creativity without pretentiousness, a masterpiece of sorts that transcends mere genre categorization and enters an indescribable realm occupied by precious few artists.

Added: August 24th 2003
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Dead Soul Tribe Web Site
Hits: 5744
Language: english

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Dead Soul Tribe: A Murder of Crows
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-11-05 12:24:57
My Score:

Devon Graves was previously known as Buddy Lackey in his former band Psychotic Waltz. It was a shame when Psychotic Waltz broke up and everyone in the band went their own way.

I heard that Devon released a solo album but never had the chance to track it down and check it out. I, however, made sure I picked up both Dead Soul Tribe discs and have been spinning them on and off for a long time. The first DST disc didn't really grab me right away being a huge change of style from Psychotic Waltz. With the release of A Murder of Crows, however, the music on their debut speaks much better to me now as well. It's just a matter of time for this band to grow on you.

A Murder of Crows is a semi-concept album in the way that some tunes are linked with each other and deal with themes like the isolation of the individual in the society. Although there's a underlying concept running through the album, all songs can be listened and enjoyed independently. On a thematic level the album makes a philosophical statement about crows carrying the souls of dead people and Devon questions the ones that cannot make it to the beyond. The album aims to produce more questions to think about instead of offering pseudo-intellectual artistic messages. The lyrics are very poetic and a bit surreal but they never lose their touch with the listener and become too sterile to take seriously.

Devon has mixed and produced this album and the sonic quality of it is really amazing. Unlike the self-titled debut, the involvement of the other band members seems more prevalant. I am particularly impressed by Adel Moustafa's drumming, both his tone and the way he chose to express himself. His technique is combined with a strange kind of creativity that is hard to explain. The comparisons to Tool and their drummers are being made quite a lot, but I personally don't hear it all that much, except the fact that I agree both bands' drummers are godly. That said, I've never been a Tool fan, but I do respect their talent and ambition. Moreover I haven't listened to them too much either so I can't really comment on the so-called similarities.

The album puts less emphasis on keyboards but borrows elements from folk music and incorporates some beautiful flute parts as well. The rhythm guitars (also played by Devon Graves) are more eminent and together with the powerful and fluid rhythm section consisting of drummer Moustafa and bassist Roland Ivenz make this disc more of a band effort and definitely a more aggressive output. The occasional guitar solos fit the flow of this disc perfectly and push the album into more unexplored directions.

I've been listening to the upcoming Ayreon album The Human Equation a lot recently and Devon Graves' amazing performance on it tempted me to revisit my DST discs. This guy has an amazing voice with a personality all his own. It should be in your best interest to check out both Psychotic Waltz and Dead Soul Tribe as well as the new Ayreon which may end up being my favourite of 2004.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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