Death Valley High: 'Doom, in Full Bloom' – CD Review


Carving out their own gothic punk/metal hybrid dubbed "Doom Pop," Cali quartet Death Valley High first kicked those genre barriers down with the release of their 2007 debut album The Similarities of the Loveless and the Undead. Their style injects a touch of horror into a hook-heavy (and even danceable) pop punk/metal formula, which only sets a band apart from the herd if they know what the hell they're doing. Fortunately, these cats get it, and they've figured out a way to wind it up and let it rip. Hit the jump for a mini-review of their latest creation...

DVH frontman Reyka Osburn comes with a solid heavy-music resume, thanks to his work with Deftones (he co-wrote the song "Lucky You"), Ghost Ride, Will Haven and Tinfed, and he's assembled a tight lineup for this project. Since their debut, they've shared the stage with other horror-centric bands – including Powerman 5000, fronted by our very own Spider One.

"When Adam and I started writing for [Doom], we had a much more concise direction," Osburn explains. "The sound was more dance-y. It was more hypnotic. It was more tribal, yet there was underlying melody mixed with our hardcore sensibility. We infused those inspirations as well as our own twists and tricks." The main twist here is the running theme of apocalyptic horror: "The lyrics create a fictitious fantasy," says Osburn. "The idea of Death Valley High is a school that's overturned by all the dark, freak kids... There's a lot of imagery of survival." (To illustrate that idea, the band created a logo based on the Japanese classic Battle Royale.)

The ominous atmosphere doesn't bog down the heaviness or catchy melodies, but it also isn't just gothic window-dressing. Tracks like the hefty opener "Black Friday," the dark and dirty "Multiply" and the spooky slammer "Meet Me for a Ouija" are prime examples of how they bring that darkness to the foreground. There's also enough variety (from high-energy cuts like "Bring it Down" to the doomier "Thru Hell") to keep things interesting, all the way through the massively heavy closer "Mist & Debris."

This is definitely a band deserving more attention, especially among fans of horror rock. Doom, in Full Bloom is out now through Minus HEAD Records. Check out this little appetizer below and try to figure out what the hell's the deal with the armadillos...