Friday, November 27, 2020

DEAD SET SAINTS "We Are The Atoned"


(c) 2019 Independent Release

  1. Golden Days
  2. We Are The Atoned
  3. You Don't Have To Go
  4. Your Move
  5. Get Ready
  6. The Love
Jeremiah Miller--Vocals, Guitars
Matt Freddolino--Drums, Gang Vocals

Additional Musicians
Andrew Stanton--Bass, Additional Guitars, Gang Vocals

Denver, Colorado's Dead Set Saints released their debut EP, We Are The Atoned, in 2019 following a successful Kickstarter funding campaign, but I didn't find out about the band until I caught their set while watching the Covid-Quarantine performance of ContagionFest (how appropriate is THAT name??!), and I immediately decided to contact the band to see what was up.  This two-man project got some big-time help in the recording studio, with Andrew Stanton (Disciple) not only contributing on bass, some additional guitars, and backing vocals, but also as the producer of the EP, with Jake Jones (As We Ascend) mixing the project, and Robert Venable (As We Ascend) mastering.  However, as is always the case, without the songs and musicians, all the production help in the world won't make a difference, so I was immediately interested to hear what the guys brought to the table as songwriters.   

"Golden Days" kicks the EP off with an edgy, down-tuned guitar riff and rapid-fire drums before *gasp* clean singing vocals jump into the mix!  That's right, clean vocals!  Sure, there is an edge to Millers vocals here, but there are no snarls, no grunts, no growls to be found, which is unusual in the modern hard music scene right now.  The guitars are tight throughout this melodic modern rocker and I really enjoy the section between the second and final chorus, which is part guitar solo section, part breakdown, with some fast and furious work from Freddolino on the drums and solid bass work, I'm guessing from Stanton, is thrown into the mix to bolster the bottom end.  An impressive kick off for this project to be sure.

The title track drops next, and it is apparent these guys have put some time and effort into their songwriting craft, as well as their playing.  Miller's rhythm guitars are catchy and the drum patterns from Feddolino are interesting and not just the same-old, same-old, with tempo changes in multiple places on this track.  Once again, singing dominates the track and a really strong guitar solo jumps out of the speakers following the vocal bridge section.  I'm not sure if it is Miller or Stanton who lays into the solo here, but either way, it is a really nice piece of guitar work on an overall really good track!

Acoustic guitars kick off "You Don't Have To Go", but it isn't long before the full power of this rocker kicks in!  I'm not a big fan of the "God's voice" spoken section, but it is very brief and not a massive distraction, and doesn't ruin the song by any means.  An anti-suicide song, this track delivers a powerful message with a very strong musical punch.  Also, as the longest track on the EP, clocking in at just a hair under five minutes, "You Don't Have To Go" gives the listener plenty of time to absorb the power of this song and to really appreciate Miller's vocal skills here.  It would be very easy to become overly emotional on a song such as this, but Miller manages to avoid the pitfalls of becoming too breathy or too plaintive, choosing instead to maintain his straight ahead style and to stay comfortably within his range.  A really good track  and while I'm not necessarily enamored of the spoken "God" voice utilized during the bridge section (it lasts all of 10 seconds), I can let this minor foible slide and enjoy a third straight Dead Set Saints track.

Some nifty guitar work intros "Your Move" before the strings move to the side and the percussion does most of the heavy lifting during the first verse section, which is a nice change of pace.  The rhythm guitars do a bit more work in the second verse, and a second voice is added to the mix, but Freddolino's kit still plays a major role in the structure of this song.  Featuring more electronic elements than any other track on the EP, there is still a really cool guitar solo right before a vocal section that incorporates some snarling gang vocals that are easily the most aggro on the entire effort.  That ringing guitar fret work from the intro reappears near the end of the track, and while not my favorite song on the EP, "Your Move" goes a long way toward showing that Dead Set Saints is definitely not a One Trick Pony as far as style and substance.

"Get Ready" is another aggressive rocker with some really nice rhythm guitar work and interesting interplay between the guitars and the drums in the verse sections that is unlike anything else the guys deliver anywhere on the EP.  Miller has some effects added to his vocals on a short vocal bridge before the guys drop in a pretty solid breakdown section that is quickly backed up by a short guitar section and then another run through the chorus.  This track has managed to find its way into my workout mix and it reminds me of the harder-hitting stuff that a band like Random Hero or Decyfer Down might release.  Good, good stuff that I would have to say is my favorite track overall.  

"The Love" teases at being an acoustic ballad as it starts off, but it melds into more of a power ballad as it builds, with a truly soaring guitar section and some of the best vocal work from Miller on the entire project.  Never really crossing over into full-on praise and worship territory, this is a song that I feel could have some pretty big crossover appeal in the Christian radio market if given the chance, and I hope that Dead Set Saints are given the chance to shine with this and a couple of other tracks because there is a lot of musical talent here.  

As one would expect with the names attached to the project, the production and recording are really well done, especially considering this is a truly independent project.  There are no glaring weak spots in the songs, the mixing is even-handed throughout, and there is just enough grit in the guitars to keep the modern rockers happy, while there is also enough polish to please the melodic rock crowd.  I do wish the guys would have had one more track to drive this EP home, but closing with the big, sweeping power ballad isn't necessarily a bad thing, and it definitely wraps up the debut on a promising note, both musically and lyrically.

All in all, I have to say I am very pleased with what Dead Set Saints have offered up here and I look forward to hearing more from my neighbors to the west soon!  I would also love to see the guys given a look by a label or two (hey, RockFest Records...are you listening???), and I hope that radio is open to what Dead Set Saints bring to the musical table because they are one of those bands that can really bridge a couple of different sub-genres of hard rock.  Let ChristianRock.Net and your favorite Christian...and non-Christian...stations know you want to hear these guys wherever you choose to listen!  

By the way, here is their three song performance from ContagionFest that got me hooked on the band...see what you think...  And, yes, I realize there are some pre-recorded elements here (they are a two man project), but you get the gist of what the guys bring to the table, and it's worth it to watch Matt headbang his hat off during "Golden Days"!

Follow the band at where you can snag the CD or a shirt if you choose, or hit them up on the socials, download their stuff on iTunes, or give them a listen on Spotify.

Rating:  An impressive debut showing, no doubt!  Crank this to 7 and keep your eyes (and ears) out for these guys in the future!

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