Dead Confederate – ‘In the Marrow’

“So while ‘In the Marrow’ possesses all the right parts to make up a poorly oiled machine, its subtleties and heaviness show themselves in perfect balance.”

Hannah Cook

out of 10

Dead Confederate
In the Marrow
April 16th, 2013
Spiderbomb Records

Listening to Dead Confederate’s In the Marrow is a strange experience. In it, you have an angry, broken voice, belonging to Hardy Morris, echoing over minutes at a time of discords and screeches. If there’s any glimmer of hope and happiness on it, it’s hidden away, shadowed and alone, making it not so hopeful anymore. It’s too long in some places and not long enough in others. It’s simultaneously such a mess and perfectly orderly, carefully crafted.

It’s the perfect recipe for a disaster of an album, really.

And yet, it’s not. And yet, you’re hooked, from the minute the band delves into a seven and half minute creep-along in opener “Slow Poisons” to the last ringing note of the soundscape-y “Winter Waters.”

It takes a keen ear to make out all the things happening on In the Marrow. At first, it’s difficult to tell when one discord ends and another begins, like a couple of still snakes wrapped up in one another.

But then feeding time comes; the snakes feel out their prey with the tips of their wiggling tongues and then….pounce!  There it is. That sign of life. Something exciting is right in front of you.

The album is a bore until that aha moment, which is why it’s important to really–I mean really–listen to it. This isn’t easy. It’s no Jack Johnson or John Mayer. This is the real shit.

Dead Confederate takes after Dinosaur Jr.’s angst-y alternative ‘tudes in “Bleed-Through.” A grungy guitar paces along with shuffling drumbeats. The buzzing is so overpowering that it sounds like Morris is crooning through a megaphone on the quietest setting. “I know you can feel my real thoughts. They haunt you too. I know you can feel my real heart bleeding through,” he sings, but not in the way you might imagine those kinds of words to be sung.

If there was ever a way to mix grunge, shoe-gaze, ambient and Southern rock without it sounding like a hoarder’s home, In the Marrow would be it and Dead Confederate would be the master of the art.

Take “Best of the Worst.” First it’s ambient, with swirls of synth opening the song. Then southern-y cords digress down the pitch spectrum, which are then met with Morris’ uneasy vocals reminiscent of the ghost of Kurt Cobain. Each part, so different in nature, fits together like a puzzle. A dark, depressing puzzle.

Similarly, “Big City Life,” beginning and ending strangely with a few unpleasant strums, is a slow, steady walk through a life endured but not enjoyed. “I couldn’t take hold of the big city way,” Morris admits. But the harmonies at the chorus, while they are such small fragments, are some of the softest parts of the whole album. Something about them is cozy despite the essence of the song being discomfort.

So while In the Marrow possesses all the right parts to make up a poorly oiled machine, its subtleties and heaviness show themselves in perfect balance. It may take some waiting, some thinking, to realize it, but this album is something that simply works.

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