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Sweden’s The Dahmers take horror punk to the next level

The Dahmers
In The Dead Of The Night

Bloodshot eyes and a glowing sheen from a television screen at 3 a.m. became my conceptualization of what punk was about in the ‘80s. Those disposable 3-D glasses worn as fashion. Musty basement parties through the eyes of public access mood rings fueled by hours of watching Night Flight. At least this perception was for a limited time. But I was hooked on late-night horror. Nightmare Theater. This is what The Dahmers are about. Their music is not simple horror schtick or fringe art as much as it is a mentality they have pulled from interpreting the works of Hammer horror or wide-eyed Gil Kane montages.

The Dahmers on Selective Memory

You can feel its ghostly presence on their cover art. In the Dead of the Night may seem like a more difficult aura to master, turning the scene of a contorted vampire-like hand trying to get a coffin lid open. But it’s their least visually stimulating in comparison to their previous releases and a homage to ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s horror while maintaining a sense of identity. On the new album, the remnants of fog twisting around the band’s moniker only to be illuminated like some synthwave horror-inspired resurrection from the vault. The font they use lends itself to veer in that purposefully dated direction.

The opener bleeds into the first few notes, bomp-bomp-bomp! A bass clef Yamaha pounds out eerie synth punctuation. Good evening! *Creeeeeaaaaak!* I can hear Vincent Price’s voice now. The Dahmers time warp us into some basement in Kristianstad, Sweden deep inside a 19th century Scandinavian mansion. Yet this band simply resides in a sleepy town roughly 30 minutes away called Bromölla, best known on the Internet for its massive T-Rex stretched across the side of a building. In their minds the castle twists up into the heavens and rains down bats as they bellow out fierce garage punk like a mad monster party.

This is what my mind wants this album to be. They could have pounded out this release in a band member’s mother’s postmodern apartment for all I know. Clear architectural lines do not make for a good, gritty atmosphere. What is evident is that The Dahmers like to establish a mood to their music using association thematics.

They rip into “Cut Me Down,” and it’s like a hot rod driven by members of The Damned barreling at top speed through the gates of hell. There is even that same vibrancy that comes from “Neat Neat Neat” that leaks on to this song. If only it were The Black Album.

The Dahmers – Cut Me Down

Now that we established this, “It’s Too Late” is nothing like the opener. The song is more pop-punk in a garage rock establishment. Not as strong as the opener, that is, until you get to the song’s bridge and a Havana 3AM-like breakaway meets a bad rendition of a Boston guitar lick. I will say this song has the creepiest lyrics on the album given who the band’s name takes after. “You will never be alone. I am with you wherever you go. It’s too late!” Welcome to Creepsville! Thanks for sending that song into a 180. But it’s that pop factor that sends your jaw dropping on the floor that solidifies their art.

Don’t expect this album to all be horror film fodder. One song is not like the other is not like the other. . . other. From ‘70s acid rock to hyperactive hardcore punk to archaic ‘60s snark pop, we get to a song like “I Wake Up Dead” and it’s something The Dwarves might actually get behind. It’s like a lost song from the Sugarfix sessions.

They pull a “Dusk till Dawn” dichotomy with everything in between like a road trip through the night. For me, it feels like the car ride scene in Blue Velvet. However, I am not sure if I am Frank Booth or Jeffrey Beaumont in this scenario.

Blue Velvet- Car Scene

Andrew Duncan
Dug out from a pile of zines and hot sauce, Andrew Duncan has contributed to many publications through the years, including Chord and work with the ever so spunky Readyset...Aesthetic! He now resides deep within your membrane.

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