“Dress Code: Blood”

By Thrash-head

It is somewhat rare these days for a melo-death release to really hold a listener’s attention. Bands often wear their influences on their sleeves to a fault, or they are so intent on creating a variant of this style that is more extreme for the sake of it. While the latter can definitely be enjoyable, it is often at the expense of the catchy melody lines and dynamics that tend to define the genre. It becomes more go-for-the-throat than sing-along and the lines get blurred. Will there ever be another classic release the remains faithful to the original spirit of what made melodic death metal so appetizing in the ‘90s in the first place, while still bringing the aggression that the modern metal scene so desperately requires for enjoyment?

This is where “Dress Code: Blood” comes in and fulfills something that has been ever-so-elusive. Firstly, the band seems to have seemingly come out of nowhere. It’s not a supergroup, there’s seemingly no notable demo history, and the members themselves individually don’t really have the kind of back history with other storied underground metal bands one typically finds in a new band in this genre. Yet, here exists a supremely well-executed debut record with extremely well-developed tunes. Even there, to say that dramatically undersells this. This might actually be the best release in the genre since the turn of the century.

The guitars are absolutely pummeling with incredible Swedish buzzsaw riffage not unlike the likes of AT THE GATES, DISMEMBER, late-‘90s IN FLAMES, EVOCATION, and more. There is an obvious verse-chorus formula in the tunes, but the transitions are so perfect even between tempo shifts and key changes. The lead melody lines are the catchiest this side of anything Jesper Strömblad has put his name on. The drums are exactly what you would expect for this with some SLAYER-esque d-beats and double-bass rolls. The bassist is definitely a hero here though not just for his tight playing and note choice but also for the mix engineer really working hard to find the perfect place in the mix for that low end. Big beefy chords are little blooming out of every song. As for vocalist Tommy Goffin, he definitely has a vocal timber that is extremely befitting the music, and yet is still slightly more hardcore than the Tompa-clones and blackened shriekers this genre is oozing with. It’s more extreme, and yet he has extreme control over his delivery to exhibit actual melody with his growls and screams. Speaking of, thank you Tommy for not resorting to the easy way out with singing the chorus lines and actually putting in some real effort.

As for the songs, they are just so infectious! Several songs begin like “All Out War” and “Bring Me Her Head,” where the lyrics come in near-immediate and instantly grab you. Other tunes like “Onwards to Hell” utilize the gift of riff in such a way that - and please understand this is not stated lightly - has probably not been utilized this effectively in the genre since “Slaughter Of The Soul.” Yes, the riffs are just that good! Andi not every song is an all-out thrash-fest with sludgy, swinging grooves like on “Aurora” coming in the break up the thrash-death formula and create a more thorough listening experience. It all culminates with closer “The Widow Black,” a nice crawler of a riff-feast that is just different enough from the whole rest of the album it makes for a nice and epic close to a perfectly satisfying listen.

I don’t throw this around lightly...but I am very ready to call this a perfect record. It is just so massive in its sound and delivery and songwriting. To put it more bluntly, this might be the best melodic death metal release since the turn of the century. People need to hear this and have their minds blown!