Atlanta locals serve doom, gloom, and rockin’ tunes in June

Written by Scott Belzer | May 31st, 2023

It’s rare to be a region with a smorgasbord of unclassifiable heavy bands, folks. Sure, the usual names come to mind. New York. Los Angeles. The Midwest. But what about the Southeast? If an upcoming show at Boggs Social & Supply is anything to go by, the answer is an emphatic “yes.”

Exhibit A: Dead Register. In their own words, this Atlanta trio is, “a moody, heavy, sad-sap, tortured, cry-in-my-coffee, dual-bass band.” Take vocals from The Killers’ Brandon Flowers, add elements of Nine Inch Nails or Type O Negative, throw in post-punk and post-hardcore sensibilities from Low or Jets to Brazil, and top it off with a desert rock dreaminess—then you might have an idea of what Dead Register brings to the table.

Dead Register is the perfect soundtrack to walking through a desolate landscape alone at night, lost in your own thoughts. Perhaps you’re thinking about a relationship. Maybe a future or past event. Or maybe you’re just thinking about how groovy, textural, and otherworldly M. Chvasta and Avril Che’s melodies are. Either way, you’re Dead Registerin’ right? As an Atlantan (ATLien? Atlantanien?), I’ll say this is a band to be treasured and celebrated.

Exhibit B: Wailin’ Storms. This quartet takes the same glacial sound offered by Dead Register but dips it in North Carolina swamp water. The guitars are fuzzier. There’s a bit more desperation in vocalist Justin Storms’ wailing and a bit more doom, gloom, and punk edge to the soundscapes created. Instead of going for straightforward melodies and rhythms, Wailin’ Storms takes time to bask in its own atmosphere and stew in its own Southern Gothic sounds. Even the band’s most punk rock offerings take a step back to lament. Just when you think you have the band pinned down as one genre or another, they take a left turn that’ll make you grin and appreciate it more.

During that same hypothetical walk, say you reach a point of anger or debilitating emotional pain. Say you have the sudden urge to scream or fall to your knees and punch the ground. Or say you just want to amp up the energy, bang your head a bit, and release some built-up angst with a healthy howl at the moon. That’s when you’d bust out the Wailin’ Storms.

Exhibit C: Canopy. If it’s desperate, angry, and lamenting doomscapes you crave, Canopy delivers it all in a sludge-drenched package. Taking cues from bands like Primitive Man and Body Void, this Atlanta quintet takes time (literally, no song is less than five minutes long, often hovering in the 9- or 10-minute range) to revel in its angry atmosphere. Each song drives at the pace of a funeral hearse, blasting listeners with thundering rhythms and riffs that strike like a sledgehammer, all while Justin Brush screams bloody murder. It’s some sick shit, man (this is complimentary).

With all that in mind, it’s hard to just label Canopy as pure sludge. There’s an element of contemplation amid the chaos, as evidenced by melodic breaks from guitarists Shalor Howell and Aaron Greene. There are samples galore that add a sense of dread to the wall of sound. If the band means to walk the line between sludge and twinkly post-metal (a la Cult of Luna or even Isis), they’ve succeeded.

Exhibit D: Shutdown Shipyard. This Atlanta trio also delves the deep depths of sludgy doom to produce a sound somewhere in the middle of a Venn Diagram made up of metal, prog, emo, shoegaze, and post-rock. Paul Warren’s clean, contemplative yet lamenting vocals contrast nicely with his 50/50 fuzz-tastic/clean guitar alongside bassist Mark Parker and drummer Harper Harris. 

Each song is at least six minutes long, which gives Shutdown Shipyard enough time to throw in slow builds, twinkly solos, and crushing crescendos. It’s equal parts Explosions in the Sky and Ahab, if that makes sense. You’ll get lost in thought. You’ll feel things. Your mind will wander. And you’ll appreciate every moment of the long, trudging, sonic journey.

Scott Belzer

Dead Register performs at Boggs Social on Friday, June 2nd with Wailin Storms, Canopy, and Shutdown Shipyard. Tickets are available here.