February 14, 2018 Painted Doll – Painted Doll (Album Review)
Whenever they think of Death Metal bands, many of the dead-set, diehard punters of the genre (pun obviously intended) imagine the artists behind the music as being serious, angst-ridden, mysterious, ominous, and to some degrees even scary. They fail to acknowledge that these artists are people too who, artistic and creative as they are, would always have the tendency to try something new and would also find time to have some lighthearted fun. In fact, many of them are also inclined to go out of their comfort zones and engage in their other interests or explore different realms of the art that they have chosen to flourish in.
Having digested that, one might be both equally surprised and curious to know about the background of the new collaborative musical project known as Painted Doll. The American outfit is certainly an adventurous aural excursion that the duo comprising it have taken.
Painted Doll resulted from a series of jam sessions by the Comedian/guitar shredder Dave Hill and Extreme Metal musician Chris Reifert of Death and Autopsy. The mercurial chemistry between the two became immediately apparent especially after they found out that they both dug ’60s Psychedelic Rock and obscure Dutch bands that operated in the early ’70s. What started as an idea to record a couple of songs eventually developed into the decision to make a full-length instead. Thus, Hill and Reifert began writing and recording songs for what has become their forthcoming first, self-titled work under the moniker Painted Doll.
Slated for release on February 16, 2018, on Tee Pee Records, Painted Doll is a big departure from Reifert’s usual style of Death Metal in his erstwhile band Death and the recently reunited Autopsy. It opens with the lead single, “Together Alone,” which is indeed oozing with Psychedelic Rock sensibilities in the veins of Blue Öyster Cult (“[Don’t Fear] The Reaper”). It is then followed by the Beatlesque, bluesy twang of “Carousel.” (One will not miss the references: “Something in the Way” and “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!,” even if only for the title and the concept.) Then there is the chugging motorbike rhythm and metallic sheen of “Hidden Hand,” which will remind the initiated of Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild.”
The hidden hand then crawls into the equally upbeat yet sweetly rustic “Dressing Room,” perhaps looking for some fellow hands to shake. Following next is the title track, whose Hindustani-inspired guitar spirals, buzzing guitar drones, and catchy melodies make it easily the album’s standout. “Eclipse” then ensues in the same motor breath and psychedelia, owing to the guitar’s heavy use of the wah-wah pedal. Here, Reifert is definitely summoning his Death deities.
“She Talks to Mirrors” is a bright change of pace and style—very melodic, familiar, and quite comforting, exuding faint echoes of The Grapes of Wrath (“Good to See You”). The mirrors on the wall of the thirteenth-floor elevators then shatter and burst into razor-sharp splinters, spiraling and then taking shape soon afterwards as the angular and jagged “Stairwell.” No need for elevators, after all, when you got a spiral staircase!
The penultimate track, “Find Your Mind” is where Hill and Reifert break loose, trading guitar licks to their fingers’ content, reminiscent of their onstage exchange of sonic banters. This pyrotechnic display finally extends to and ultimately concludes with the duo’s ominous and darker rendition of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ classic “I Put a Spell on You.”
If there is one significant thing that Painted Doll have really shown in their debut offering, then it is the fact that two virtually opposite musicians could work together and come up with something almost totally different from their usual cups of tea or bottles of lager, whichever bittersweet concoction enhances their creativity and each of them finds solace in. CrypticRock gives Painted Doll 4 out of 5 stars.