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Posted on January 5th, 2015 (11:00 am) by Michael Negron

With some bands, the aesthetic is make or break. Dance With The Dead delights equally in both and have concocted a new set of songs to enchant and annoy. The cover art, the intentionally cheesy theme, the glorious reverb-soaking; ah, the eighties. You should know by now if you’re going to hate it. Can’t enjoy beats without complexity? See ya. Loathe rocktronica? Bye bye. God help you if you don’t like throwbacks.

Still here? Well, unfortunately it’s a mixed bag regardless. It’s relevant to mention first that Send the Signal is the third record Dance with the Dead has put out this year, their fourth since October 2013. Even by EDM standards that’s pretty exhaustive, but until this point each album has had a clear progression: Into the Abyss takes Out of Body’s formula of dreamy synths, heavy and simple beats, and piercing guitar leads, and drenches it in an atmosphere of watery suspense and wonder. Near Dark then ratchets up the intensity, aggression, volume and transmutes it into an '80s horror flick. So what does Send the Signal do? It becomes even more intense, aggressive, and loud, but this time… also in an atmosphere oddly reminiscent of '80s horror nostalgia.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? In some ways, that’s a fair argument. Dance With The Dead has made a (relatively short) career out of turning the same basic elements into a kaleidoscope of themes and imagery, while still performing the one basic duty that their fans espouse: “going hard.” However, where other acts might be content with that, Dance With The Dead has established a history of going beyond, consequently enjoying a greater accessibility, and are simply more interesting than many of their peers.

Send the Signal is disappointing because it doesn't live up to any of that. The theme is tired, the beats (or rather beat, as there is only one for the majority of the album) are hand-me-downs, and there is nothing done to try to differentiate the album from its predecessor. The first track is serviceable as an intro, but as Poison rolls in, the problems emerge. Though the mixing is generally good throughout (with the major caveat of being profusely pulsating and not owing anything to subtlety), there are absurdly out-of-place moments where the effort falters dramatically. The guitar in Poison is either poorly EQ’d or poorly recorded, as it is barely comprehensible when added to the mix. Even by itself in the solo passage during the middle of the song, it’s toneless, which is inexcusable when this is the leading song. Another mind-blowing oversight, and one far more egregious, occurs in the greatly superior latter half of the album on Take Me There. After the final crescendo, as the synth is dying down, the sound clip cuts out, before fading away entirely. This isn't some little bit that slipped past the editing phase, it’s very difficult to ignore.

It’s easy to point out flaws in any work, and even though this is clearly a production-heavy project, none of its mistakes would individually ruin the album. The problem is not a sum of its missteps either, they are indicative of a greater lack of effort. Dance with the Dead have proven that they've got the technical chops and the creative ability to work within conventions and make something worthwhile. Send the Signal does not do that legacy justice. The combination of a lack of new ideas, poor execution on an already aging concept, and amateur mistakes show the album for what it is: sloppy and rushed.

Track List:

  1. They're Here (Intro)
  2. Poison
  3. Not of This Earth
  4. Spacewalk
  5. Signals
  6. Take Me There
  7. Nightdrive
Dance With The Dead - Send The Signal Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

45 / 100
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