We’re nearly wrapping up the year, folks. So much has been said and done and so much music has been thrust upon our polarized ears that it’s hard to comprehend it all. The last couple weeks have dropped upon my head some really great records. Made it in just under the gun, really. Those end of year records sadly end up being forgotten about on year end lists and whatnot. It’s not their fault, really. December is that no man’s land when it comes to record releases. I’ve been guilty of it myself, the forgetting and the setting aside of LPs. Not this year. I will not forget you. Not this time.
Deadly Avenger’s Everyday Is Kill isn’t one of those last minute releases, though. This sprawling, neon-drenched retro-futuristic record was released back in August on Death Waltz Originals. At first I sort of wrote it off before I even heard a note. The slick album cover with its shiny helmet and leather-clad perky nipple and overall futuristic sheen seemed almost too obvious for my taste. I like a little mystery. I don’t need it all spelled out for me. This album cover screamed “YOU LIKE SYNTHWAVE??? YOU’RE GONNA LOVE THIS, YA DROID-LOVING DINGUS!”
I’m sort of on the fence with the whole synthwave thing, anyways. It seems to be a genre where you really have to separate the wheat from the chaff. Seems to be a lot of bandwagoners in there, scraping up some dough by selling some videogames and their PS3 and a dusty guitar in the closet they never played anyways for a couple beat up synths and some recording gear. They watched some Miami Vice, a few early John Hughes movies, and Night of the Comet 30 times so they’re now experts of the neon decade.
I’m being a little flippant here, I know. But I feel like genuine musicians and music composers are being lumped in with flavor-of-the-month artists that will be moving on to the next “big thing”, while the lifers are still plugging away with all they got. You see, Deadly Avenger is a lifer. Everyday Is Kill was a huge, beautiful surprise for my ears. It’s slick 80s synth fare, but done meticulously and expertly. It reminds me of Le Matos, but in a quieter, more personal way. There’s not big club bangers going on here, but more bite-size pieces of 80s beauty. It plays very much like an old 80s b-movie about some dystopian future where packs of mongrels and radiation mutants fight the “freshies”, the humans that survived by living underground while the fallout covered the earth like an ashen, deadly snow. There’s hard, chromed-out tracks here for sure, but there’s also some really emotion grabbers as well. It’s a massive and amazing listen from start to finish.
So who or what is Deadly Avenger? Well apparently it’s not an A.I. artist that was conceived in some futuristic space station located just off the second ring of Saturn(I did some research and sadly this is not the case.) Turns out Deadly Avenger is the project of musician Damon Baxter. Here’s what I found about Baxter:
Composer, producer and international DJ, Damon Baxter aka Deadly Avenger, first burst onto the dance music scene back in the the early noughties. Supported by the likes of Fatboy slim, Propellerheads and Jon Carter, Damon was heralded as the pioneer of ‘Big Beat’ touring the world and setting dancefloors alight, he eventually settled nicely into a Fabric Residency alongside Unkle and The Wiseguys, which lead to the release of two of the genres biggest records, ‘Evel Kneivel’ and ‘King Titos Gloves’.
As well as this:
But It wasn’t until the first remixes were commisioned that the true Deadly Avenger sound would emerge. A sound that the indie glitterati embraced, bands such as Travis, Manic Street Preachers, Elbow, and The Charlatans were all seduced by the overly emotional strings, blended with dirty beats and enigmatic arrangements. A sound that developed fully with the re-imagining of Bill Conti’s “Going the distance” into the form of ‘We Took Pelham’.
Baxter as Deadly Avenger evokes big emotions and sweeping string touches that seem to have been pushed thru a wormhole and come out the other side darker and slightly chewed up. His earlier work has elements of the Crystal Method and early Chemical Brothers with the feel of a 70s film score. Everyday Is Kill feels like a leaner version of what he was doing 10 years ago. “Surrender” is sly and slinks under the radar as the album opens. It’s like space age ambient. You think you might know what you’re getting into until “The Legacy” comes rolling in and then all bets are off. Part Com Truise and part 80s pop radio the track has hard-hitting beats and wavering synths. Pretty stunning stuff. “Night Drive” is a pulsating trip in a chromed-out Delorean somewhere between here and infinity. “Last 5%” is a slice of 80s pop radio heaven. This would be the “relationship montage” scene, with the two young lovers driving along the coast or rummaging thru records in a music shop; or in the case of a post-apocalyptic film where they’re smiling as they rummage through junk piles looking for gasoline and mutant rats to spear and eat over an open fire. This is feel good music of the highest order.
This album keeps pushing great song after great song. Baxter knows his stuff, and it shows in tracks like “Metrowave”, “Encom”, “Dead Heat” and album closer “Black Rain”, those last two being titles to 80s films(not surprisingly, really.) I really can’t say enough about this record. This was an absolute highlight at the end of a not-so banner year. Deadly Avenger’s musical world is a place I will gladly escape to whenever I need a futuristic shot to the system.
Everyday Is Kill is most definitely wheat and most definitely not chaff. Put on your anti-gravity suit, vibranium helmet, and blast some Deadly Avenger in your hover car.
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