Death Of Me – “Hell’s Where You Make It, Love’s How You Fake It” EP7th August 2023
Back in March, this reviewer embarked on an adventure up and down the country, with more eagerness and excitement than he typically would at his local supermarket’s wines and spirits aisle, and THAT is saying something! Yes, covering former HIM front-man VV on his solo UK “Neon Noir” tour, I managed to do Bristol, Nottingham, Manchester AND London in the same week, (Check out my AATR Bristol review HERE,) excluding Glasgow primarily for bagpipe-based reasons. (Honestly, Scott’s sound like “SWRMXS” reads…Iron Brew only became IRN-BRU because the statutory diet of whisky and haggis rendered them illegible as human beings. You don’t drink whisky? Och aye the noo! Have this wee can of rusty carbonated- piss water instead, and if ye dinnae like it youse can haud yer weesht!) …I digress.
I bring this up now because, as VV performed at the O2 Ritz in Manchester, I happened to talk briefly with a gentleman by the name of Jim Carter, up on the venue balcony, about all things Heartagram. I do apologize for me not being 100%, or as typically talkative, as I was incredibly ill that day, and had to mentally force myself to the venue. Only hours previously I’d been spewing on the side of the M53, so, if I appeared generally uninterested, I owe you a beer, as the sickness bug I had nearly ruined my day! Nevertheless, we kept in touch, and it just so happens he is in a band himself. Let me introduce you to DEATH OF ME.
The band, featuring Jim on vocals/synths, and completed by guitarist Mike Foxall, bassist Luke Gordon and drummer Rob Barnes, are based out of Stoke-On-Trent, and are gearing up for the imminent release of their debut EP; “Hell’s Where You Make It, Love’s How You Fake It”. Call me Chandler Bing but could that BE more emo? We’ll pencil in FALL OUT BOY and PANIC! AT THE DISCO as early influences just in case. Jokes aside, Jim got in touch asking for a review of the EP, which has been produced by Sam Bloor and mastered by Grant Berry, so we should expect some good things. The question is, will this EP be the death of ME? Let’s check it out…
We open up with “Yearn (An Introduction)” and you’ll never guess what? It’s a pointless intro. One day a band will full-on Monthy Python me and surprise me with an opening outro, but I’m not holding my breath. For a minute and a half, we get some subtle gramophone crackling, amidst somber rainfall and simplistic yet commanding piano keys, leading into some punching percussion. It’s moody, it’s deep and it does give off a sense of foreboding, but it doesn’t need to be a track of its own. It transitions smoothly into the proper opener “Halo” to make you think, just make it one track. HIM had a 5-minute plus opener with “Buried Alive By Love”, it’s doable, so do it!
That track in question, however, “Halo” gets things underway nicely as we’re met with a barrage of crashing cymbals, riffs, and highly strung emotive rock. It’s fast-paced, frenetic, and impatient as it blends soaring vocal harmonies with some of Jim’s velvety notes, bridging the early 2000s anthemic emo heyday with post-rock elements and subtle hardcore punk aesthetics. It’s equal parts melodic and melancholic and screams influence like THE USED, SLEEPING WITH SIRENS, and HOLDING ABSENCE. It’s a genuinely encouraging track, the production is a little loud here, it’s almost messy, bordering on distorted, but it’s a solid opener overall.
Next up we have an early EP highlight “Cry”, and I can assure you there are only happy tears here. The synths are more prominent while not over-powering resulting in a beautifully balanced track. The aforementioned influences are clear to see here, with the addition of AFI really embracing that light Goth-pop ambiance. It’s incredibly delivered and designed to make you move. Mike’s guitar solo is brief but effective, and the key change, while being a proper pop trope, a-la WESTLIFE for example, only adds to the track’s journey. You cannot deny the hooks here, fantastically catchy stuff.
Elsewhere the EP simply continues to fulfill. All of the prior influences blend to make “True Blue” a wonderfully energetic track, despite its darker undertones, and instrumentally this track slaps. Initial promotional debut “Your Heart, The Casket” gained praise from both Radio 1 Introducing and Kerrang! And it’s easy to see why. The melodious clean vocals, hooks, and light metalcore instrumentation allow for a romantically rocking delivery and this is produced superbly. It’s assertive and in your ears but not uncomfortably abrasive, hitting all the right spots.
The emo influence is rife on tracks like “The Long Lost Art To Never Falling Apart” and “Choice Words And Cursive”. The former utilizes all of the same winning formulas we’ve already talked about, while the latter rounds things up with a marginally deeper, delicately disheartened piece of emo rock. Honestly, this is damn near faultless, and for a sound and genre that’s been frankly buggered into nostalgia for Gen Y or post-millennials, it’s fresh.
The only gripe other than the intro being a track of its own is the interlude “Lueur D’espoir”. Again, lads, it’s an EP… you don’t need to be overly artsy. Sure, you’ll garner a passionate audience on the strength of this EP, but less is more, more often than not. Translated as “A glimmer of hope”, we can only hope at best, these sorts of things are kept for full-length albums. You have enough solid material here to not need to be convoluted, and it’s another minute and a half you honestly didn’t need. Though I am nitpicking.
Ultimately, Death Of Me ironically breathed life into a genre that was reeking of throwback Thursday vibes. Emo, along with Nu Metal became a meme, and there are those that will look upon this as just that, a throwback to when emo ruled the mid-2000’s, but credit to Jim and the boys they’ve delivered. The quality here is nothing short of applaudable, as they’ve poured their hearts into this and it shows. Has it been done before? Yes, but when was the last time you heard a band as crisp as this on their debut? Hell’s where you make it, love’s how you fake it? There’s nothing fake about these boys, and I’ll see you in hell if you don’t enjoy this… may that be the death of me.
EP Score: 8/10
- “Yearn (An Introduction)”
- “True Blue”
- “Lueur D’espoir (An Interlude)”
- “Your Heart, The Casket”
- “The Long Lost Art To Never Falling Apart”
- “Choice Words And Cursive”
Release – 8.Sept 2023
Label – Self Rease