Canadian dance-punk duo Death From Above (formerly known as Death From Above 1979) are back. Three years since their previous studio release, Outrage! Is Now sees bandmates Jesse Keeler (bass, electronics, backing vocals) and Sebastien Grainger (drums, lead vocals) take an experimental approach to their distinct style of music, whilst maintaining the core of what makes Death From Above sound so unique.
Album opener 'Nomad' sounds like a triumphant march into the spotlight. With the simple but effective tapping drums and proud, powerful bass riff, this song is a statement of intent. This is the kind of song that should be played as the opener for festival sets, the one that gets everyone on board and says; welcome to the show! With plenty of room for headbanging and jumping, this song has good time written all over it. 'Freeze Me', the first single released from the album is a big dancey belter, laden with spacey distorted bass guitar, chirpy piano notes and a big catchy hook to sing along to. It's easy to see why this was chosen to be the world’s first taste of Outrage! Is Now.
By the time third track 'Caught Up' hits, the diversity of this album is really starting to set in. A slow and steady rock track that you can nod your head along to, the kind of song you wanna crank up in the car and drive along to. 'Never Swim Alone' may be a track that sounds familiar to you already, due to the fact that the guitar in this song sounds strikingly similar to the underground theme from many Super Mario games, a comparison that has been pointed out by many fans on the songs official music video already. Despite these similarities however, this short and sweet track oozes a cool vibe from start to finish, and Sebastien’s lyrical style really shines here.
‘Moonlight’ is a tense and gloomy recollection of a time that Sebastien was violently attacked by a gang of people whilst on tour in Dallas. The frantic thrashing of the strings and sporadic blasting of drumbeats, the lyrics ‘it came like a wave, they came crashing over me’ make this song dark and harrowing. ‘All I C Is U & Me’ however is an upbeat bop that sounds like a happy go lucky pop song the band have taken and mangled into their own signature weird-rock brand.
The track ‘NVR 4EVR’ actually contains the sound of late fan of the band James Marshall Matthews Jr’s ashes, used as a shaker in the opening of the track. This came about due to James’s sister attending a show where she gave the band a vial of his ashes. As Sebastien explains; “I brought that vial on all of the tours we did and up to the farm. When we were doing percussion overdubs for “NVR 4EVR,” I had to use them. The track starts with the riff and that shaker is actually his earthly remains. It’s a very special song to us and his family.”
Producer Eric Valentine’s (Queens of the Stone Age, Taking Back Sunday, The Wombats) influence can be heard all over this album, much to the benefit of the DFA boys, this is quite possibly the most accessible yet consistently good album they’ve put out yet, it’s confident and full of swagger in all the area’s that count. Closer ‘Holy Books’ is as close to classic Death From Above as it gets on this album, if there was any song to satiate people sceptical of the duo’s evolution to their sound then this is the one. They say that three is a magic number, and with this third LP the Toronto based duo have struck gold.