When your band revels in the dark romance of the velvety night, then October is your time to shine! Dead Girls Academy do just this on their sophomore disc, Doves in Glass Houses, which arrives on Devil’s Night, October 30, 2020, thanks to Mission Two Entertainment.
Michael Orlando and Dead Girls Academy made their full-length debut back in June 2018 with Alchemy. This first effort from the Las Vegas rockers produced two Billboard Top 40 singles—“I’ll Find A Way” and “No Way Out”—and both songs would also go on to break into the Top 30 at Active Rock radio. Quite a success for the trio fronted by the former Vampires Everywhere! vocalist, it would pave the way for non-stop touring alongside the likes of John 5, Falling In Reverse, Adelitas Way, Badflower, and more. Also conquering such festivals as Warped Tour, Epicenter, Inkcarceration, and Welcome To Rockville, among others, Dead Girls Academy worked hard to spread their name.
So now it’s time for their sophomore effort, the 11-song Doves in Glass Houses. For the release, the goth rockers in Dead Girls Academy—Vocalist Orlando, Guitarist Craig Pirtle, and Drummer Zachary Moore—opted to work with three separate producers—Malcolm Springer (Matchbox 20, Fear Factory), Kris Crummett (Dance Gavin Dance, Sleeping With Sirens), and Nick Sampson (We Came As Romans, Polyphia). Maintaining key elements of the sound that they presented on their debut, the threesome explores new sonic pathways throughout Doves in Glass Houses, offering up an exciting collection of Rock-n-Roll in the process.
Doves in Glass Houses opens to “Blackout,” where synth atmospherics thicken the lush layers of sound that back Pirtle’s gripping guitar work and Moore’s steady beat. All of this as Orlando leads his undead troops through a melodic rocker that starts the LP off on a great note. It’s a mood that continues into “Ghost of Me” as they mix it up even further, creating a powerful, cross-genre track that delivers one truly soaring guitar solo.
Crunchy riffs support the foundation of “Bleeding Faith,” a clear standout with massive, infectious choruses that (loosely) remind this particular listener of Eighteen Visions’ 2006 self-titled effort (“Victim,” in particular). This boldness is also present in “End of the Fight.” Here, Orlando plays with his vocal delivery, allowing his evil rasp to crawl into the verses before dipping into his lower range for the choruses. The end result is a song that explores outside the standard Hard Rock boundaries and shows Dead Girls Academy’s versatility as artists.
Next, Moore’s drums set the fast pace for Orlando’s frustrated verses on “Addicted To Your Heart.” Exploring toxic relationships of the past, the songwriter and his cohorts eventually explode into melodic, rocking choruses on the catchy single. However, “Just For Tonight” fails to hit quite as hard, emotionally speaking. “It’s Friday night in November, I’m hanging out with my friends,” Orlando sings breathily in this intimate power ballad that wants desperately to be full of need. They never manage to harness the desperation and longing necessary to get there, but there is a lovely guitar solo.
Fortunately, they pick right back up with “Agonize.” Pounding rhythms and bursts of guitar anchor the heaviness, which offers up the crispest production of Orlando’s vocals on the entire record. Then they seek to inspire sing-alongs with the straight-up, melodic rocker “Nothing Left.” A whole new side to Dead Girls Academy’s sonic personality, this is a sound that lacks rough edges and yet we’d still love to hear more.
The final three tracks are, like everything before, a mixed bag of ideas. “This Is War” explodes with its infectious, bratty vocal chants, though they opt for a midtempo approach on “City Lights” as Orlando shares the languid story of a girl who wants to be in the spotlight. But it’s the album’s grand finale, “Inside Out,” that is the true showstopper. Featuring the multi-talented Jinxx of Black Veil Brides on strings, the track delivers some truly angelic vocals from Orlando who delves into guilt and regret amid some romantic, gothic poetry. Complementing his efforts, his bandmates fire on all cylinders and Jinxx’s strings are stunning. This all adds up to a truly haunting song that is a magnificent way to end an album if you want listeners to remember your name.
On Doves in Glass Houses, it’s clear that Orlando has pushed himself further as both a vocalist and songwriter. Though not every risk pays off, we greatly appreciate a sophomore LP that fearlessly crosses genres and has the balls to try new things. Still raw and very much a Rock-n-Roll band, Dead Girls Academy takes their successes from Alchemy and builds on them, evolving toward the pinnacle of their true might. Rough enough to rock you, but sensitive enough to be addicted to your heart, this is a band that should be on your radar. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Doves in Glass Houses 4 of 5 stars.