Death By Stereo
Into The Valley Of Death
With a full scale war being broadcast live to our sofas on the 24-hour rolling news, Death By Stereo's third full-length album serves as a timely reminder that punk in the 21st century doesn't have to be solely about broken hearts and baggy pants. 'Into The Valley Of Death' is angry and impassioned, but more importantly it's angry, impassioned and intelligent with a dusting of humor to boot. There's no denying the rag and revulsion that respectively fuel anti-Bush diatribe 'Good Morning America' and the self-explanatory, 'Shh, It'll be Our Little Secret' but, equally, you can't deliver a song called 'I Wouldn't Piss In Your Ear If Your Brain Was On Fire' and be po-faced about it. They might not care about lifestyles of the rich and famous, and it's almost certain they don't give a toss which girl the bad guys want but, where many politically aware outfits offer only bone-headed belligerence, Death By Stereo - like Propaghandi, Anti-Flag and too few others - serve up their polemic laced with an acid wit.
Musically they provide themselves with the perfect base for such a lyrical slant, threading moments of subtlety and unexpected twists through jagged pillars of noise. Tracks like 'The Plague' and 'Beyond The Blinders' mix serrated metal riffs and a raw punk feel with ragged melodies and hugely infectious hooks. 'Wasted Words' pastes swirling banks of keyboard over abrasive snarls while 'Let Down And Alone' augments a rampaging hardcore beat with a choral vocal arrangement that could almost have been one of Iron Maiden's more pompous moments.
Indeed, despite their place as cult punk icons, there's no attempt to disguise the classic metal influence that permeates Death By Stereo's sound. On 'Flag Day' guitarists Dan Palmer and Tito get to finger their frets to their hearts desire, but Efrem Schulz's unique vocals keep everything tied to the street. The man sounds like a raging tramp howling over the last Diamond White, but it's a style that seems to mesh perfectly with the band's unorthodox mixing of styles.
Incendiary, cynical, raging and thoroughly individual, 'Into The Valley Of Death' might just be enough to reaffirm your faith in a genre that was always supposed to be all things and more.