|Death Before Decaf – Together We Are Nothing|
Record Label: Sacred Plague Records
Release Date: March 24, 2007
Music is a part of everyone's life. Whether it has a small part or if it consumes a life, this is undeniable. And for the music connoisseur, finding that small unknown band that can change a life is like the quest for the Holy Grail. It can be done, but will take huge amounts of searching and effort. So when Death Before Decaf's debut release Together We Are Nothing entered my CD player, I couldn't help but hope that this small label new wave band from Allston, MA would create an album worthy of sharing with friends and the online community. A small business card that came with the album stated: "Kaleb H. Christ – Philosopher." The card gave me the impression that, at worst, this would be an interesting listen. Well, the bigger the hopes, the bigger the disappointment.
If the vocals alone don't beg for the "eject" button to be pushed, the lyrics and non-existent flow of the album will. And vocals might not be the right word in this situation. The dry, emotionless speech coming from front man Kaleb Keefer sounds exactly like that one guy who recites his poetry at the local coffee shop every Saturday night to a crowd of six people, except with a distorted effect added on for that new wave feel. This does nothing for the lyrics, which come off as repetitive and pseudo-political at best. With a talented vocalist, the lyrics wouldn't be as painful, but the horrible vocals seem to enhance the below average lyrics in a bad way. With lines like this, it really shows that lyrics weren't exactly top priority on this release:
Your love for me repulses me because there's no mutuality
Your love for me repulses me cuz I, I repulse myself
Together we are nothing - we share in the nothingness
But do not just assume - it takes work to remove
From the veil - from appearance - from the status quo
-- "Nihilist Love Song"
With only a keyboard and a microphone, Together We Are Nothing can't help but get old fast. Death Before Decaf takes three songs and remixes them several times over to make eight tracks out of the original three, so by the time the album ends, the same lyrics have been heard at least three times. Quite frankly, this is a horrible decision for an up-start when the original three songs aren't anything special to begin with. The beats are very simple and also get repetitive by the second or third listen.
Where this release does get some credit is in the production department. They manage to take these eight songs that are all very similar and make them sound somewhat different, so it doesn't feel like the same track has been played over and over again. Granted, when the best part of a band's release is the production, that doesn't bode well at all.
Self-described as “synth-rock-new-wave-nihilist-lo-fi-madness," Death Before Decaf come off as boring, slow, and somewhat arrogant and elitist. As yet another side-project of Kaleb Keefer, founder of Sacred Plague records and front man of several bands that ranging in genre from punk to brutal sludge, Death Before Decaf have a nihilist/philosophical foundation. But when the foundation of a band is the belief in nothing, what can be expected other than a complete waste of the little time put in and the little talent that was used?