It might not really need saying but, listening to the new flexi-disc from Death From Above really reiterates what a creatively fertile period the last few years have been for the group. The appearance of The Physical World in 2013 marked the beginning of a new era for the band; on that album, the group better developed their sound so it functioned well beyond the once-fashionable, “clang-bang-yelp” structure which defined You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine.
That growth opened the floodgate for new ideas and yielded side projects which proved they could stand independently of Death From Above (see MSTRKRFT and The Mountains) but also came as clearly related to what the band was doing. It was pretty wild at the time; with the release of The Physical World, everything suddenly seemed to come across as interrelated and there felt as though Death From Above’s music featured a fresh new focus.
The new focus which came across on The Physical World endures on this flexi disc, but “Freeze Me” exists clearly at another new point beyond where The Physical World stood. Again, it’s easy to recognize the song as the work of Jesse Keeler and Sebastien Grainger, but the song is also an undeniably fresh start – it doesn’t sound exactly like anything the group has done before and commands attention because of that.
The difference between “Freeze Me” and everything Death From Above did before it is perfectly self-evident as soon as a stylus sinks into it. Right off, the garish and kind of fractured forms which characterized You’re A Woman… have returned again but, unlike before, the sound here is bigger and thicker than it has ever been on Death From Above’s previous releases, and more menacing as a result.
The lead-off piano sample speeds out manically and gets listeners’ pulses racing, and the drum loop which comes out next easily gets listeners ready to dance – but then the bass arrives monolithically, knocks the wind out of them and changes that dance to a mosh. No fashionable phrase effectively expresses how hard it hits: ‘elemental,’ ‘monumental,’ ‘immense’ and ‘overwhelming’ all feel too small.
That explosion would surely be enough to win listeners but, just when they’ve accepted what they’re hearing and reach that point where they’re getting into the idea, the band smashes them over the head with an almost comically large slab of concrete-dense rock and just level them.
It might sound trite, but the event is unbelievable to witness – truly.
After that first mammoth assault, it falls to listeners to decide whether they accept or deny what they’re hearing because Death From Above just continues with a force which borders on explosive inevitability. For the verses, singer Sebastien Grainger adopts a very melodic, emo tone. He seems to reach out to listeners cathartically (check out lines like, “Tell me what you think, are we in trouble/ Feelin’ sorry’s never been my struggle/ Pickin’ up the pieces, siftin’ through the rubble/ Ringin’ in the New Year listenin’ to the double”), which holds listeners mesmerized before the sheer volume of the chorus smashes them over the head like a swing from a dead blow hammer.
The sheer volume of the chorus is both ragingly obnoxious and ravingly infectious. And what’s more – that’s the governing principle which drives the whole song! Listeners will actually find themselves taking pause to simply observe the force exerted by Death From Above, and they won’t move until the needle lifts.
And after the needle does lift from the “Freeze Me” flexi-disc, those who have heard it will immediately bemoan the fact that what they’ve heard just isn’t enough – they’ll want more. They’ll have an undeniable sense that what lies before them is another new path plotted by Death From Above, and it sounds exciting but, because “Freeze Me” is only three and a half minutes long, the finer points of that path and where it’s headed are uncertain – but it’s definitely strong enough start that listeners will be aching in anticipation of the announcement of another full-length release on which this song will appear.
(Last Gang/EOne/Warner Brothers)