(Self-released, digital download)
According to Baudelaire — and later Roger “Verbal” Kint in The Usual Suspects — the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. But after spending time with Dead Bods, the latest from Vermont’s Ausable Killings, I would submit a slight alteration: that Mephistopheles’ most devious illusion is his ability to manifest in myriad forms. Sure, the most famous image of Satan is with red skin, black horns and a pitchfork. That fearsome, demonic visage has been the inspiration for countless artistic tributes, especially of the heavy metal variety. But Dead Bods suggests he is at his most dangerous as the Trickster, appearing in ways we’d least expect.
Ausable Killings is a side project of Teleport’s Adam Fuller and Sean Martin. For fans of that band’s breezy, light-rock leanings, AK may indeed prove too fiery at times. However, those who fondly remember Martin’s acclaimed metal band Romans will find a lot to like. In fact, on a very basic level, AK is something like a hybrid of Romans and Teleport: black metal heart with blue-eyed soul. The results are suitably disorienting and endlessly entertaining.
The album begins, appropriately enough, with “You’re Gonna Die”— an ethereal intro that evokes Explosions in the Sky and is overlaid with a sample from the film Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (“Martha, I have some terrible news…”). Then AK explode in a crush of deliberate, sludgy guitars and drums. Above this, Martin unleashes a melodic banshee wail, eventually yielding to pulverizing double bass drum assault.
“Devil’s Garden” is next, with Martin adopting the high-toned screech of a cheese-metal singer. Fuller, who handles all the album’s instrumental duties, surrounds his partner with a gruesome assault of guitars, drums, more film samples and — wait for it — machine-gun fire.
Following the deftly subversive “Spawn of the Serpent,” AK offer the record’s gnarliest twist, “Die.” Here, AK depict Satan seducing a helpless girl over a twisted jumble of R&B slow jamz, which is a jarring but hypnotizing stylistic turn.
“Well, girl, pretty girl,” sings Martin in a cheeky falsetto style borrowed from Beck’s “Debra.” “All we want you to do … is sit there and die.”
It’s that sort of ghoulish, slasher-flick humor, couched in a shifting cloak of musical trickery, that characterizes Dead Bods. In Ausable Killings’ idle hands — the Devil’s playthings, doncha know — eternal damnation almost sounds like fun. Which is precisely why it’s so dangerous.
Dead Bods by Ausable Killings is available at ausablekillings.bandcamp.com.