Liars - Drum's Not Dead (2006)

Drum’s Not Dead is an album in the truest sense of the word. There are scarcely any songs on here that a cognisant individual would skip to, apart from the final track. Drum’s 12 songs are to be listened to consecutively, in their rightful and deliberate context. Separately they do not amount to more than experimental oddities, but as a whole they create an eye-opening listening odyssey.

“Drum” represents creativity and “Mt. Heart Attack” embodies death or pessimism. Drum’s Not Dead captures the conflict and battle between these two concepts.

“Be Quiet Mt. Heart Attack” opens the album with washes of distorted guitar and foreboding drumming, generating an irrepressible nervousness. Second track, “Let’s Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack” marks the first musical and conceptual brawl. Vocalist, Angus Andrew, opens the song with a bellow like a siren, before the percussion starts to pound harrowingly. Guitars resound as part of some hellish nightmare, while Angus sings in his frightening falsetto. Cymbals crash madly, while the vocals continue to howl frantically.

“A Visit From Drum” introduces the tribal drumming which is scattered throughout the remainder of the record. Angus’ choir vocals chant “When the power’s out and it’s dark in the house, I will run. On the other side”. Discordant flickers of guitar smash and then withdraw.

“Drum Gets A Glimpse” offers one of the records few melodic reprieves. Riffs echo beautifully, while the drums whisper. There’s a sung call-and-response conversation “Why can’t we just try start again?”, “It just won’t work”. “I’m bothered by these trembling stars”, “Then close your eyes”. It’s warm and fleeting.

Mt. Heart Attack then begins to prevail, as “It Fit When I Was A Kid” bullies Drum shortly after. Angus hums in a low register maliciously, “We will drive you in the boot, through the crooked paths, to your resting place. We will leave you in the woods”.

“Hold You, Drum” agonisingly prolongs the aural torture with marching band percussion, jarring chords and looping vocal buzzing. “It’s All Blooming Now Mt. Heart Attack” haunts with nuanced atmospherics, disquieting, terrible and taut.

Drum is strung up by the wrists in “Drum And The Uncomfortable Can”. The torment is recounted by Angus, “Take him out the back, throw him in the bin, dump his grimy clothes, wash your dirty hands”. Unyielding tribal drumming continues to harass anyone still listening.

By this point, dread and alarm have settled in and Mt. Heart Attack appears the victor.

Until, as if by some impossibility, the album closes with an indescribably magical lullaby, which in 4 minutes completely cleanses the listener of the lurid journey they had just endured. The destination, it would seem, is a musical paradise. “The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack” is my favourite song of all time. When listened to in the context of Drum’s Not Dead, this song presents itself immaculately, nakedly. It has such a generosity of spirit, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was from a different record. The song engulfs you with tender chants and a humane melody. It acts as a rich emotional reward for anyone who explored the darker crevasses of their consciousness in the songs prior.

Drum’s Not Dead will drown anyone willing to hear it, but it will also afford you a priceless and overwhelming breath of fresh air at the curtain-close, worthy of the bruises to your ear drums.

Drum’s Not Dead is a perfect statement, wholly and completely.

(95 - SM)
Combined Rating = 97.5


Anonymous said...

Joel said...

this is one of my top albums of all time. nice review