I have all the respect in the world for Australia’s King Parrot. They’re a band that has basically taken the step of diving head first and full on into doing their band at 110%. The quintet has employed a combination of sheer determination, old fashioned elbow grease, financial risk and business sense and a little bit of that innate Down Under lunacy to make their band a full time endeavour.
In doing so, they’ve been able to complete multiple tours of North America, Asia, Europe and their Aussie home over the course of the last couple of years. And, while I haven’t seen them in concert as of yet, I’ve had it imparted upon me by fellow jaded show going veterans that their live show is a top-notch event that really needs to be checked out. The sticking point for me, personally, is that despite all the accolades and high regard I hold for what goes on behind their lighted stage, I haven’t really found their music to be all that exciting. Until now.
Where the Melbourne band’s Bite Your Head Off debut was a collision of old school grind and raucous thrash in the alley behind a gin-soaked comedy club, you could almost hear the growing pains and nervous sterility that plagues many bands that haven’t yet learned to let loose in the studio – i.e. how to translate that live energy to tape (or hard drive or whatever). Dead Set, on the other hand, appears to be the result of having spent much of the last two years on the road and getting their asses into the studio with Phil Anselmo in the producer’s chair.
Generally speaking, the songs still traipse along the tightrope between thrash and grind, but the new material presents as rawer and looser and incorporates elements of black metal atonality and harsh 80s hardcore, which, when you take a step back, is most of what Anselmo has been dropping into the public’s lap since Pantera split. We’re not saying that Anselmo is to King Parrot as Don Kirshner was to The Monkees, but spend enough time with anyone – Dead Set is also seeing release on Anselmo’s Housecore imprint – and they’re bound to rub off on you. It’s why your parents always told you to stay away from certain neighbourhood kids who were “bad influences.” In this case, the influence ain't all that bad and has worked in King Parrot’s advantage.
There’s more of a chaotic live feel to this album in tracks like “Punisher,” “Anthem of the Advanced Sinner” and “Like a Rat” where you can almost feel the flying spit and beer of a raging punk show oozing from the speakers. As well, Dead Set comes across as more dystopian, less jocular and giving less of a fuck than Bite Your Head Off did with “Home is the Gutter Is,” “Sick in the Head” and the blackened black metal Black Flag mix of “Reject.” Even when the humour does rear its head, as on “Hell Comes Your Way,” it’s less goofy and more caustic and biting; similar to the difference between, say, Flight of the Conchords and Jim Jefferies, which is a decent enough metaphor for Dead Set when it’s inevitably stacked up against the band’s previous works.