I know normally in this column I’ve been talking about ambient releases, but we use Rainbows in the Dark to explore any kind of music that gets heavy without falling into “metal” territory. One of the more exciting (at least for me) musical trends in the United States is an emergence of bands that take traditional Americana song structures and styling and add in flairs of gothic darkness. Acts like Wovenhand and King Dude have gotten the attention of the populace at large, and now set to join those ranks is Portland, OR’s The Dark Red Seed with their debut EP Stands With Death.
The Dark Red Seed is the project of Tosten Larson, who some may recognize as the guitarist for previously mentioned act King Dude, and Shawn Fleming. Conceptually, Stands With Death revolves around the idea of death as a unifying force, the ultimate act of acceptance. The first two tracks on the album, “The Antagonist” and “The Tragedy of Alesund,” are contemplative affairs, where sparse drumming and light guitar work allow Larson’s rich, confident vocals to take center stage, equal parts Johnny Cash delivery and Nick Cave gloom. Closing track “The Master and the Slave” is where the band’s swagger kicks into high gear; driven by slow and forceful percussion and fuzzy, tremolo pedal-laden guitar, the song stomps along like a Chicago blues jam on steroids. It’s this kind of willingness to re-work tradition that makes Stands With Death such a fun and interesting listen. Blues and Americana are still the backbone of the band’s formula, but interweaving moments of sparseness and ambiance, as well as some pretty heavy riffs at times, makes this more than just a wistful-eyed nostalgia album. This sounds fresh and modern in all the right ways.
The Dark Red Seed make music where the past and the future collide in exciting ways. Stands With Death is informed by its roots, but not afraid to work them into something exciting. It pleases me greatly that a full-length album from this act is already imminent, because I am thoroughly hooked.