Released: 2006, Candlelight Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Candlelight Records, ever the sturdy pillar of quality metal releases, seems to have ventured into familiar waters by signing Dead Man In Reno, an emo/metalcore band from Tuscaloosa, Alabama who have stirred up plenty of activity on their MySpace page (if that means anything to anyone over the age of sixteen). The band’s self-titled debut is paint-by-numbers metalcore but Dead Man In Reno certainly goes for musicianship over brutality and hooks—think of a mix between Between The Buried and Me and Atreyu. The twin guitar attack is ripe with sweet melodies and is certainly the glimmer in an otherwise standard-issue release. Clean vocals are used sparingly keeping this one notch away from being a complete copycat but even fans of the genre would be hard-pressed to find much to get enthused about here.
The guitars of Chris Penuel and Stuart Ogran shine immediately on “From Here I Can See The Shore,” with a richly-developed melodic bridge that looms over a breakdown near the end of the track. The pair get a moment in the sun on the classically-influenced piece “Given A Season of Sun” with a beautifully-played acoustic instrumental. “Goodbye Tomorrow, Hello Dead Letters” is powered by Penuel and Ogran who shift from a softly-melodic guitar tone to a full-bore freakout midway through and wind things up with a fretboard dance right out of Dillinger Escape Plan’s playbook. The generic nature of Justin Sansom’s shrieks and bellowed roars become monotonous in a hurry and are the weakest element of Dead Man In Reno. Rather than trying to infuse any personality or character, Sansom plays it safe by following the credo of metalcore frontman through the entire album. It isn’t until the sixth track, “The Devil Made Him Do It,” when, in true Atreyu fashion, drummer George Edmonson is allowed to break things up where he stretches the band’s limited vocal spectrum and introduces a clean vocal during the slower middle section. Likewise, Edmonson’s clean vocal on “Cursed” saves the track from being a meandering exercise in patience with a patched together piano and string section that drags things out past eight minutes. The guitar solo that kicks in around the five-minute mark is certainly worth checking out, though. The sickeningly-sweet choruses of “Even In My Dreams” and “Lovestrainedrazorblades” blow any remaining credibility out the window as the band approaches a forced Atreyu sing-along with decidedly mixed results.
Recommending Dead Man In Reno’s debut is a pretty tough pill to swallow. With so much metalcore out there, it’s a wonder a band like this ever saw any interest from a label at all, especially Candlelight Records. With a few standout moments of guitar melodies sprinkled over three-quarters of an hour, don’t expect Dead Man In Reno to take the world by storm any time soon. Uninteresting, unoriginal and as mediocre as anything else currently saturating the metalcore market, maybe MySpace is exactly the right place for them.
KILLER KUTS: “From Here I Can See The Shore,” “Goodbye Tomorrow, Hello Dead Letters,” “The Devil Made Him Do It,” “Cursed”