When musicians leave bands, often fans are met with feelings of sadness; however, sometimes it leads to those same musicians creating new and fresh music that fans will equally appreciate. Case-in-point is DEAR MOTHER: when Merel Bechtold left Dutch symphonic metal act DELAIN to explore new horizons, she contacted ex-DELAIN drummer Joey de Boer because she had written a set of songs that were just too strong to be ignored. They teamed up with Russian vocalist David Hruska and the result is their debut album, “Bulletproof,” out on July 16th, 2021. Check out our interview with the band here.
Starting off with electronic elements, “Vertigo” energetically sets a good image of what DEAR MOTHER sounds like. From the start, it’s incredibly difficult to pinpoint a subgenre on this release, as the band comfortably blend elements from heavy metal, metalcore, modern metal, and electronica, making this blend of music familiar in origin but unique in execution. From the start, the guitar riffs are aggressive, mostly focusing on fast rhythms rather than adding a lot of melodies (that’s eventually what the A-class guitar solos and electronic sounds are for). The drums are not just there to provide rhythm, but create a certain atmosphere within the music (which is especially clear in “Vertigo,” just pay extra attention to the C-part and you’ll hear it too). Hruska‘s vocals range from emotional clean singing to full-on grit to more metalcore-oriented screams. This is the track that convinced Merel and Joey of David‘s worth and it’s easy to hear why, as the versatility in his performance knows no limits.
“Means to No War” continues the energetic spurt, showing David‘s more aggressive side with gritty vocals peppered with growls. The music itself is somewhat in line with the previous track, yet something about this song also stands out, perhaps the more mellow, melodic chorus that at the same time has a very powerful edge to it. “12 Years in Exile” changes up the record with a more progressive sound, especially concerning the guitars (perhaps the 7-string guitar adds an extra progressiveness to this song). Vocals-wise, this song is an emotional rollercoaster showing all the aspects of David‘s voice. “12 Years in Exile” is definitely one of the ultimate highlights for me on this record.
Four songs in and we’re surprised with the slower “The Ones Below,” starting off the track with an electronic soundscape, after which David‘s soft vocals bring the song more soul and strength. Then, after the first verse, the rest of the instruments kick in and bring back the overall heavy balance of this record. Oftentimes the guitars will make room for electronic minimality, but they also fill in when the vocal performance requires more strength. Towards the extremely heavy chorus, the guitars play an interesting melody to spice things up. “An Eye for An Eye” is perhaps one of the more aggressive tracks on this album, despite its soft start and emotional lyrics. In stark contrast, there’s “A Soul for Hire,” which is a song that plays around beautifully with electronic soundscapes and minimality, and thus focuses mostly on the vocals that pierce through your soul. Again, this track is a definite must-listen-to on this record and I’m also quite sure it’ll be a fun track to play live, especially because of its beautiful and subtle balance between electronic music and heavy metal.
“Symbiose” reminds me a little bit of the incinerating start of the ’90s “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” theme song. Aggressively fast guitar riffs set the tone of this track, but soon the track becomes a lot more melodic. “Satellite,” on the other hand, is more in the style of “A Soul for Hire,” a mid-paced track that is more focused on electronic soundscapes, which make it a warm, hooky, powerful song. The track that is vocally the most aggressive is perhaps “Fade In,” where you can hear David do vicious growls, combined with the occasional emotive, soft vocals, contrasting quite a bit, making this a very intriguing track. Next track “Heart” feels like a heavy 30 SECONDS TO MARS track, especially because the verses have a strong Jared Leto-vibe. While the build-up to the chorus is truly climactic, the band contrasts it nicely with a very atmospheric C-part.
Continuing with “Invincible,” DEAR MOTHER once again show their strengths. Again, this track blends in some elements from prog nicely with their modern sound and thus, the track is a fine example of the unique style DEAR MOTHER has. This song is also terribly catchy and if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself with an earworm after the album is over. Speaking of the end, last track “Palace” is a mesmerizing ending to this record. Starting off with a beautiful guitar strumming pattern, topped off with David‘s emotional vocal performance, the track shows yet another side of the trio and in the end, lingers on for a while.
All-in-all, DEAR MOTHER have created a very strong debut effort. With twelve songs that are diverse, but yet so consistent, DEAR MOTHER acuaint the listeners with their sound: a blend of metalcore, progressive and alternative metal, electronica, and a lot more. In many songs, they create the perfect balance between electronic sounds, orchestrations, and heavy metal. The instrumentations to these songs were already top-notch, but with the addition of vocalist David Hruska, the band truly have a great team of musicians, who not have only with great chemistry together, but also managed to create something refreshing.
- Means to No War
- 12 Years in Exile
- The Ones Below
- An Eye for An Eye
- A Soul for Hire
- Fade In
David Hruska – vocals
Merel Bechtold – guitar
Joey de Boer – drums