Album Review: Copperhead by Copperhead
It’s been awhile since I have felt excitement for metal. With the exception of the rising star of Unmaker in the last year, not much has caught my ear as exciting or invigorating. I was even getting to the point where I felt I just might be done with the genre. But then the upstart two-piece Copperhead released their new self-titled EP in January and made me rethink that stance.
Copperhead was birthed from the hiatus of Woodbridge based metal unit Dead And Dreaming. With that band on hiatus, chief ‘head Dave Leonard decided not to let cobwebs set in and teamed up with fellow Dreamer Jordi Faett to create this 5 song EP that is crushing and unrelenting musically. Much like the aforementioned Unmaker who draw upon classic influences (’80s post punk and goth specifically), Copperhead is ensconced comfortably in familiar tones from the ’90s sludge of the Melvins to the stop/start precision of Helmet’s best records and even the daring brutality of Sepultura.
Through much of this too short EP, Copperhead sounds like jazz majors who decided to do metal, with intelligent structures and chords bordering on major sevenths inform the proceedings. Above this though, the most integral part of Copperhead’s sound, or attack, is their use of space, with the duo weaponizing the silence found within to sharpen their sound.
Album opener “Sound Bath/Sub Lingual” perfectly executes this intelligent songwriting by playing around with time signatures, but not in a pretentious way you might find in other modern genres, like math rock. Drummer, vocalist, and lyricist Dave Leonard’s muscular and strained howls cut through these open spaces as if he is singing through gritted teeth. Lyrically, he treads paths just like the best of metal’s forefathers and contemporaries, within himself and the darkness he finds there. “Hell is now,” Leonard’s guttural vocals informs us. “My final mistake dissolves in saliva…”
Second track “Predawn Light” shines a spotlight on that aforementioned space and also housed a bass riff by guitarist Jordi Faett that is so sludgy and dirty, it would warrant a nod of approval from any Melvins fan past or present. “Mirages,” the third track, is a barn burner, galloping along at a frenetic pace until a breakdown in the middle of the track materializes that compels head nodding, whether it be in the form of hundreds at a crowded venue or just one person listening intently at home. On top of that, Leonard employs a gang chorus style vocal at the end of the song that works beautifully too, something that proves he is not at all afraid to try different styles in his vocal approach.
Album closer “High Production Land” is another sludgy number which showcases how well drummer Leonard and the strings of Faett work so well together. Leonard’s drumming throughout is complex in its simplicity, engaging but subtle in a way that pops out of the record. The track ends strangely with a sample of Sun Ra waxing poetic in the movie Space Is The Place while a Esperanza Spalding sample intertwines itself within.
Copperhead, being a studio only project right now, are currently trying to put a full band together so these songs can come to life in a live setting, and one can only hope this plan works out. This is a band that needs to be heard, and one definitely to watch for throughout the rest of 2019. If this EP is any precursor to what is to come, they are going to resonate with Richmond metal fans real fast.
And oh yeah — thanks guys. For making me dig metal again.
Copperhead by Copperhead is available to listen & purchase now at http://copperhead/bandcamp.com.