Album Review: Death Spells – Nothing Above, Nothing Below

Death Spells has been in the works for a while now. Initially planned in 2012 as the industrial brainchild of former My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero and longtime collaborater James Dewees. Promised by Iero to be unlike anything the pair have worked on before, debut release ‘Nothing Above, Nothing Below’ gives us nothing short of audio pandemonium.

Sounding like a disgusting orgy between members of The Prodigy, Sleigh Bells and Ministry, album opener ‘Why Is Love So Disastrous?’ throws listeners into a brutal cacophony of industrial fury complete with blastbeat locked grooves and a dash of gothic melody in its choruses, adding a touch of velvet granduer to what feels like a assortment of noises.

Setting the tone from here, ‘Nothing Above, Nothing Below’ continues what feels like a violent rollercoaster to the earth’s core, getting stranger with each track while celebrating total genre autonomy. ‘Choke On One Another’ amps up the dance music influence with a brooding synthesiser groove that takes its cues from French duo Justice, while ‘End of Life’ is full on neo-psychadelia. And it’s all delivered by Iero’s petrifying vocal range which recalls the panicked screams of The Body’s ‘Chip King’ as much as it does the impassioned snarls of ‘Antichrist Superstar’-era Marilyn Manson.

Sometimes, there’s a layering of teenage angst carried on this album that distracts from the chaos surrounding otherwise. Cries of “D-E-S-T-R-U-C-T-I-O-N is my God” sounds like it was written by a 13-year-old that wants to be The Joker.

There’s a lot going on on ‘Nothing Above, Nothing Below’ and each listen will guarantee some new discovery. Iero and Dewees have used Death Spells to expand their songwriting into darker and boundary-free territory. And while some of the pre-teen angst is still clinging around, it’s an accomplished piece of work, which may act as a stepping stone for younger fans to discover more genre smashing acts such as Ministry, Death Grips and Atari Teenage Riot.

3.5/5

‘Nothing Above, Nothing Below’ by Death Spells is out now on Hassle Records.

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Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)

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