Dead Street Dreamers, 'Countdown to the Reaper' | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Dead Street Dreamers, 'Countdown to the Reaper'

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Published June 12, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.


Dead Street Dreamers, Countdown to the Reaper - COURTESY
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  • Dead Street Dreamers, Countdown to the Reaper

(Screaming Crow Records, CD, digital, vinyl)

Rutland, a city with a legacy of hard-nosed punk and hardcore music, has produced a new torchbearer to carry forth the tradition that bands such as Get a Grip, Midnight Saints and Mask have established in recent years.

Dead Street Dreamers formed in 2021 when longtime friends and members of the local punk scene, including former River City Rebels guitarist Nick Grandchamp, came together to create a band cast in the mold of their direct influences. There's no "post" to any of this punk, no math to the rock, no gimmicks or quirks — Dead Street Dreamers are a hard-hitting, often political band dwelling in that sweet spot between the Stooges and Black Flag.

Their debut album, Countdown to the Reaper, hits everything you want in a hardcore record. The guitar riffage from Grandchamp and Hunter Phelps is savage, drummer David Davis and bassist Brit Davis put some serious low-end thud beneath the crunch, and vocalist Nate Hale fronts the band with a furious howl.

The title track kicks off the album with a doom-laden squall of guitars and pulsing kick-drum hits, building tension as the band spells out humanity's downfall. "Living in a war zone / concrete cowboys every day," Hale bellows over the storm, leaning into the nihilistic tone that pervades the entire record.

"Turncoat Lover" rides a pounding, almost tribal beat and snarling guitar work, but it's an amuse-bouche for the bombast of "No Where to Go." A perfect slice of hard rock that flirts with the grandeur of '70s arena bangers such as Kiss' "Detroit Rock City," the track is a rage-filled indictment of baby boomers who stripped the economy for parts like car thieves. "Your generation took it all / you cut our ropes, you watched us fall," Hale screams.

For all the quality bands in the Vermont punk scene over the years, it's rare to hear such a well-produced record come from a genre that usually dwells solidly in the DIY, EP-in-a-garage realm. But Countdown to the Reaper is on the opposite end of that spectrum; it's a sonically potent album recorded at drummer Davis' studio and mixed and mastered by guitarist John Stoecker (the Cheats; Johnny and the Razorblades). Stoecker's work and the group's meticulous production have elevated the young band's sound into a fully formed, classic punk-rock powerhouse. For a relatively new band, Dead Street Dreamers sound like they've been at it since the days of skate videos and mixtapes.

There are no ballads or slow numbers; from "Ground Zero" to "Crash & Burn," the band never lets up, like a dog with a bone clenched between its teeth, gnashing and growling the whole way. Dead Street Dreamers know exactly who and what they are, and their debut album proclaims that as loudly as possible.

Dead Street Dreamers celebrate the album's release with shows on Friday, June 28, at Despacito in Burlington and Saturday, June 29, at Mountain Music in Rutland. Countdown to the Reaper is available now on Spotify.

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