Dead and Gone

Meet Dead and Gone. They're oh-so-creepy, oh-so-dark, in oh-so-much pain, and with The Beautician, prove once and for all that they're smarter than you. Once the shining beacon of the Berkeley crust scene, Dead and Gone used the five years since the release of their last full-length to metamorphose into a complex, layered and mature band. Well, mostly.

Lead vocalist Shane Baker still has his penchant for singing about combustion and/or phlebotomy, but these can be forgiven on the strength of his voice. Unlike your run of the mill screaming frontmen, Baker sounds positively scorched, growling inane lyrics like "Everyone's destiny is death," with such two-packs-a-day intensity as to almost allow you to suspend your disbelief. Cross Brian Johnson, Tom Waits and the clientele of Perversions, and you're halfway there.

Musically, however, the band excels. Using Neurosis and Christian Death as obvious jumping-off points, the band elbows past such easy touchstones and occupies its own sonic niche. Drummer Joey Perales and bassist Brian Stern command the bottom end so adamantly that Rockey Crane - who evidently sleeps with a reverb pedal under his pillow - can seed shimmering soundscapes or launch brutal minor-chord assaults at whim. Tempo and time changes abound as well, and unlike many other music-nerdish punk acts, the transitions are seamless.

Dead and Gone - 1992-1997, 2000-2002. Defiant and insolent as ever, the band builds on their reputation as proto-punk purists.
Photo: Alpha Pup Records