There’s an overwhelming trend toward politeness in what we like to call “indie rock.” Nevermind that indie rock descended from hardcore punk and has long been a safe haven for dissonance, angular progressions, and fits of atonal noise. No, today’s crop of rebel rockers would rather dabble in Paul Simon soft rock and sing about horchata than turn up their amps or, heaven forbid, let their demure vocals rise into a scream.
For Death Becomes Even the Maiden, a trio of generally good-natured dudes from Columbia, being polite has no place in the music. In the three-and-a-half years since the band played its first show, DBETM has issued two vinyl singles and an EP on CD of jagged, abrasive, and surprisingly catchy indie rock.
The two bands whose dissolution became the genesis of DBETM — From Safety to Where and Bolt — offer some indication of how the trio arrived at its sound. From Safety to Where, DBETM frontman Eric Greenwood’s former outfit, plied fierce, bass-driven post-punk. Guitarist W. Heyward Sims developed his style in Bolt, a prog-inclined post-hardcore band prone to serrated melodies and abrupt rhythmic shifts.
In this band, though, Greenwood borrows heavily from the loud-quiet-loud dynamic that The Pixies’ Black Francis and Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain turned into a genre-defining trait. Rising from a low, tense growl to an unhinged scream, Greenwood’s voice unloads like a shotgun. His bass plods like Joy Division at its grooviest, echoing a bit of his former band’s approach. Meanwhile, Sims cuts angular six-string lacerations with the technicality and fury of Frodus’ Shelby Cinca. The drum fills — supplied now by new drummer Logan Goldstein — pummels with the weight of the Melvins and the dexterity of Polvo.
It’s indie rock, to be sure. It’s even catchy, leaning hard into strong hooks and stronger riffs. But Death Becomes Even the Maiden is loud and uncompromising, sharp and muscular. It’s anything but polite — which is precisely why it’s so good.