Drums of Death: Generation Hexed

By , Oct 7 2010

Available on: Greco-Roman LP

Kiss. Batman. Michael from Halloween. When an individual dons make up or a mask, it immediately prompts the question of what lies beneath. And behind the black and white war paint of Greco-Roman’s Drums of Death is a Scottish metal fan named Colin Bailey.

Bailey’s been pushing his forlorn take on electronica for a few years now, but it’s only in the last couple – with the birth of his DoD persona – that people have started to sit up and take notice, on the strength of several 12”s for Greco-Roman and an explosive live show. He’s lent his production muscle to Peaches’ last album, remixed the likes of Hot Chip and taken the one-man rave that is DoD live across the globe. Generation Hexed is the culmination of this move out of the shadows, soundtracking the voodoo man’s rise across ten new tracks.

Bailey’s modestly described the album as a collection of “rave horns and love songs”, and he’s not far wrong. His productions pack a satisfyingly savage punch, but can also sit incongruously alongside his vocals. ‘Along these Plains’, ‘Modern Age’ and ‘Lonely Days’ in particular would sound better as instrumentals; DoD’s tongue, which veers between a Bryan Ferry-esque croon and James Murphy style dance-punk yelps, often tripping over the shapes thrown by his should-be-dominant beats.

Where Generation Hexed does succeed is in distilling the massive musical bong of influences it draws on into a cohesive whole. While Bailey’s mic skills might sometimes detract, the album’s ten tracks hang together nicely without ever outstaying their welcome. Opener ‘Karaoke’ is a blend of choral drones and bleeps reminiscent of the Beta Band’s more pastoral wanderings, briefly casting a pagan shadow over the album. Along with closer ‘Voodoo Lovers’, featuring Gonzalez on piano, it’s one of few moments of calm on the album, and together they make up two of Hexed’s most rewarding moments.

‘Science & Reason’ and ‘Creak’ are two of the more bass-heavy tunes on the record, the former adopting a DMX Krew-like booty shake, the latter on an epic horror electro tip. Both take the record from its Wickerman retreat and straight into the club, nodding to ’90s rave and making the argument that DoD’s influences lie closer to ‘Voodoo Ray’ than voodoo itself. Single ‘Everything All At Once’ is one of the record’s best moments, and perhaps the most exciting tune the DoD project has spawned to date, fusing Timbaland drums and juddering electro with a monstrous synthline that sounds like it’s just grown legs and crawled out a swamp. It wouldn’t sound out of place on a Modeselektor album.

Despite a few bum notes where DoD should let his music do the talking, Bailey has still managed to deliver a musically coherent album with his debut. And perhaps for that reason alone, you should join him in grabbing an airhorn and getting the face paint out.

Jim Ottewill

3.5
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