“The Day after Halloween” (2009)
Album Review by MORGAN ROTH
The band Dead Vampires is seemingly out to prove that vampires don’t have to suck. A mission that the band successfully achieves with their album The Day After Halloween.
The entire band wears Halloween masks when they perform, so it’s a bit difficult to learn too much about them. On stage the band assumes personas in true horror-punk style, including, most current roster: Doc on vocals, Batt on the Moog Synthesizer and Theremin, Zak Skellington on guitar, Spankula the Count on Drums, Chainsaw Bunny on Theremin, Rocky ‘Boo’ Cocky on bass, and Steve Bones on drums. Stiff Randall and Dave Grave are credited on bass and drums respectfully for the album being reviewed.
Doc, also known as “Dale Fall”, is the lead vocalist and front man of Dead Vampires, but he has also released solo works under Dale Fall; and performed as the singer of Los Bastardos, and Snakes of Christ (a Danzig/Misfits tribute band). Regardless of who these vampires are, they’ve come together to create a truly memorable album, infused with life—an album that just might be perfect for getting over those post-Halloween blues.
Coffin Rocket starts the album off with real bite. With high intensity vocals, rhythm drums, solid guitar, and the signature electronic banshee wail of a Theremin, the song runs the full gambit and hits listeners with an energy not unlike the strike of lightning that the song ends with. Coffin Rocket hits hard, fast, and leaves first time listeners wondering just what they witnessed.
While The Day After Halloween (2009) starts with a real nice hook, it nearly exhausts the patience of listeners with the second song. Abra-Cadaver, though clever in name, the song is not so clever in its composition. The song plays like a tantrum with very little variation. It’s features a lackluster build up to disappointing pay off. No lull or respite is to be found, save for an all too brief instrumental section. Though perhaps the weakest song in the album, listeners ought to forgive the Dead Vampires. While Abra-Cadaver isn’t great, it isn’t awful either, just meh, and the rest of the album more than redeems the band.
City of Vampires brings back the Theremin and Synthesizer in full force. I’ve found I have become quite the junkie for this particular song. Though heavy with the Theremin and sound effects, there is also a great lyrical melody that runs parallel to the sound of what might be described as an electronic bee. A strong addition to the album, City of Vampires proves itself to be a song of pride for the outcasts of the city—the “freaks.”
Dead End Drive-In is a much different song than the previous three. Slower, more melodic the song brings out a more compassionate tone in Doc’s vocals. Personally this song has claimed the spot of my favorite song in the album. With the cute story it tells, the talent demonstrated in the vocals, and the song’s composition, it proves itself to be a well crafted and potentially timeless song. A Theremin interlude compliments the piece nicely. Listeners will note a real passion in the vocals, as well as precision in the instrumental work. The song’s fantastic bridge will be something that listeners will find themselves singing in the shower for weeks to come.
Blind as a Bat makes it abundantly clear that one doesn’t need eyes to listen to and appreciate a song. This high energy song incorporates a slower, more compassionate break. The lyrics include the ever popular energetic counting (One for the— Two for the—). A chorus of ghostly moaners help finish this song in strong fashion.
The song that shares its name with the album, The Day After Halloween, stitches together a number of the genre’s love clichés to form a decent song, while the following number, Devil Within, applies a heavy dose of drums, showcasing the talented Dave Grave. Devil Within is a strong entry and much more rockabilly than anything else on the album. The song is less dependent on the electronic components that seem to be the band’s signature, featuring instead great vocals, with simply and satisfying lyrics.
Ghoul U Want is a cover of Devo’s Girl U Want with a hardly noticeable play on words. There is a definite sense of admiration in this solid rendition, which also demonstrates a real range to the band. The song has a good balance of electronic sounds, Theremin, guitars, and vocals and is a good if not altogether innovative cover. The following song, Vampire Girl, on the other hand is noticeably heavy handed in its handling of the lyrics. Overall the song is a festival of sounds that don’t quite complement one another as they should. A good song for the concert scene, perhaps, but not for listening at home when one can focus more on the words and the risk of musical fatigue is a larger one. In other words, like Abra-Cadaver, this number is another one gear song that disappoints when compared to the much stronger songs in the collection.
Luckily, Orgy of the Damned brings the album back on track and really highlights the Theremin and sound effects portions of the band. The song is an orgy of sounds that do actually work well together to create a pleasurable piece of instrumental music. Doc takes a break with his vocals on this one, but the song is still distinctly Dead Vampires in sound.
Closing the album up with song number eleven is Dead and Blue. A close second to Dead End Drive-in for my personal favorite of the album, this song is an instant classic in my heart. Great lyrics reveal this to be a quirky, some-what sadistic, love song. I’m not afraid to say that I’ll love this song until I’m dead and blue. Great pace, balance of instruments, and crooning vocals really demonstrate the strength of Doc’s singing ability and cement this song in as a great horror-punk love song.
Overall, The Day After Halloween is a solid horror-pop album that makes good use of the eerie sounds of the Theremin and the powerful vocals of Dale Fall. However, like a trick-or-treat bag of Halloween candy, there are some disappointments and some real treats. It’s a mixed bag of an album, but one that contains more treats than cheap tricks.
This album is recommended for fans of the Misfits, Blitzkid, Calabrese, and The Cramps, as well as those who appreciate the uncanny sound of the Theremin. Fans might also consider giving Harley Poe a listen as he and Dead Vampires released a joint effort album titled Harley Poe and the Dead Vampires (2007).
All in all, well worth a listen and a solid addition to any horror-punk playlist that that needs a more pop-like sound to infuse some lifeblood into a party.