Monday 13 June 2022

Dame Tu Alma - Lead (2022)

Country: Switzerland
Style: Dark/Horror Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 26 Apr 2022
Sites: Facebook | Instagram | Official Website | YouTube

Dame Tu Alma may be Spanish for "give me your soul", but the band of that name are as Swiss as the clockwork effects on the intro to the debut album and its opener proper, ironically named The End (well, its intro was called The Beginning of, so that's fair). Their sound isn't particularly Swiss though, with what they trawl into it not remotely as European as we might expect, plenty but not all of it being American alternate rock.

The first influences I felt are actually heavier, but they're misleading. There's a lot of the groove-oriented mainstream Metallica in the tone and riffing, as well as some of the intros, like on In the Sense of Brightness. There's also an NDH drive that we tend to know from Rammstein in the early songs, though it could equally have been sourced from Rob Zombie. It's mostly in the urgency but also some of the dance oriented nuances or orchestrations behind it, Sick Horrors the most overt example. That combination sounds like it ought to be in your face, but it's not, mostly because of the vocal delivery.

It's clear early on that this is never going to thrash out like earlier Metallica or go industrial like Rammstein, as often as little triggers in the sound convince us that it's preparing to do just that, but the vocals settle this as alternative rock and the longer the album runs on, the more it feels naturally alternative, however chunky the riffs or urgent the drive. Every time I hit replay, I hear that heaviness in the openers that gradually fades into a more alternative vibe, one that resists heavying up into nu metal rather than thrash or industrial.

The band's website calls out Depeche Mode and Marilyn Manson as influences here, and it's easy to hear both of them, though the former are more obvious in the music and the latter more in the approach. Whoever's singing here, and I can't see a line-up to detail that, has a smooth and clean voice with plenty of theatricality in it and the band have that theatrical feel too. It isn't surprising to discover that they all wear facepaint on stage. I'm sure that there are other American alt rock bands that could be cited here, but it's not my area of expertise. It all feels post-grunge though, a few lingering moments going back to the grunge era. It's a very modern sound, with even a djenty chord surfacing at points on Breaking Loose and vocals that get shouty and almost raucous.

I should add that this isn't musical theatre to the degree that the inherent lack of visuals when we listen to the album is problematic, because it can be listened to on its own merits, but it seems an utter given that that visual element exists. This singer can surely see in his head the music videos for every one of these tracks, even if the band has only made three thus far, for Skeleton Key, Black Fire and All Mine. Oddly, given that The Knife is almost an intro to the latter, it doesn't appear on that video, because it's arguably as theatrical as it gets here.

Dame Tu Alma call what they do dark rock or horror rock and it's easy to see why, especially when you factor in the sound effects used throughout the album. However, the songs don't feel like they were built around movie samples and they aren't named for or obviously inspired by such movies, like the Misfits back catalogue. It's just a general vibe that drives everything. Tom Waits has said that all he tries to do is write "adventure songs and Halloween music" and the latter kind of fits in this case. Dame Tu Alma seem like people who live like it's Hallowe'en every day, seeing the world from both sides of the veil. Unlike many horror/shock rock musicians, it doesn't feel like this is the suit they're putting on when they go to work. I like that.

I like their music too, which is still coalescing in my brain. It's consistent enough to find a feel over multiple listens, but there's a lot of admirable variety in it without ever seeming to be consciously seeking that. It's organic variety, songs growing the way they do because that's their nature. The pairing of The Knife with Skeleton Key may be my favourite right now, just as the two minute closer Obsidian Heart is my least favourite, an experiment that doesn't work for me but might for you.

However, that'll probably change tomorrow. After all, I like the experimentation and Skeleton Key may shun that more than any song here. I ought to gravitate towards Peyote Mirage, with its crows and its jingling, like it's playing under the Twilight Zone theme, and it may become my favourite. It cheers my soul that these two songs sit next to each other on an album because it means that this band has a range broad enough that that seems natural to them.

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