In Dread Response – Embers In The Spiritless Void (Deadboy)

“Rise, morning star! For we have become the war.” So ends the first track on the second album by Auckland band In Dread Response, and this call to action, supported by double-kick gunfire, soaring guitars and screaming vocals sets the tone for the rest of the album. With European and Australian tours under their belt, not to mention an award for best New Zealand metal video and support slots for Slash, Hail! and Jennifer Batten, In Dread Response are stars on the local metal scene, and this album (mostly) explains why.

Wrapped up in striking images courtesy of lead guitarist Trajan Schwencke’s art direction, the lyrics to the songs are thoughtfully included for fans to scream along to. With references to vultures, serpents, jackals, caverns, skeletons and several venomous hosts, there is much rich imagery to enjoy here, even if much of it is foreign to modern life.

The twelve well-crafted tracks surge and roar like movie soundtracks… albeit with a little more bite. A common theme is battling dark internal forces. This is most evident on Through Chasms, where the lyrics “I am the snake inside me” compliment the siren call of the guitar. Forgotten Wasteland is about searching for meaning in life, and surrounded by songs filled with ancient imagery the simple evocation of a lonely autumn scene gives this track real emotional weight. The tortured vocals of Sean O’Kane-Connolly are spine-tingling in this track, and the soaring guitar acts as a ray of hope in the gloom.

There are many layers to explore here, both musically and lyrically. A quick glance at the song titles reveals the obsessions of this band – Apophis is the name of an asteroid that was predicted to strike the Earth in 2029, Kerith Ravine references the canyon that God told Elijah to rest in to find peace, and La Fin Absolute Du Monde translates to ‘the absolute end of the world’. In fact this track is one of the absolute highlights of the album – an evocative instrumental, it’s reminiscent of Eric Clapton’s score for the Edge of Darkness miniseries.

Though a lighter touch with the lyrics could perhaps deliver a more powerful punch, there is an abundance of talent in this band. The skilful musicianship and rich artistry on display makes one suspect that In Dread Response may have sold their souls to the Devil.

Kathryn van Beek

Click here to listen to La Fin Absolue Du Monde from Embers In The Spiritless Void