Dead Swords is the project resulting from the combined creative forces of Alex Rosamilia of The Gaslight Anthem and Corey Perez of Bottomfeeder and Let Me Run. Their debut album Enders features elements spanning shoegaze, metal, and prog rock and features collaborations with numerous other artists adding to the diverse sonic effect. Each song tells its own epic narrative, stretching to infinite lengths. The music is both grim and hopeful, dwelling introspectively on matters of death, life and our expansive universe. It draws the listener into a comforting harmonic dreamscape while evoking lonely and pensive emotions, defying the constraints of time.

The first track “Sometimes” opens with a soft, tonal riff that crescendos into hard, gritty distortion. The hollow background whispers entwine themselves into the melody just enough to be audible. The fuzzed-out vocals drive to the forefront in “Waiting” which cast out questions that receive no return answers.

With “Black” comes a shroud of darkness, ominous tone and dragging rhythm. This daunting feeling strengthens into “Fumetsu” which dives straight into heavy distortion then explodes into cascading layered guitar riffs. The lyrical themes turn existential, providing an optimistic paradox to the eerie music. Poet Mischa Pearlman speaks on both interludes, with his twisted, altered vocals seeming to lament scathing thoughts.

“Tonight” features brighter guitar strumming and melodic chiming in the background, opposing the more dissonant, industrial sounds in “Letters”. The contrast in styles suggests the intent of sending different messages throughout the album. The track “Hook” begins soft with heavier interludes while “Perception” contains virtuosic guitar and other metal elements.

In the second interlude, Pearlman’s voice is muffled as though projected over a loud speaker backed by shimmering tones creating a mystical feel. “Enders” is a perfect culmination of all the album’s sonic traits in a 10-minute long epic conclusion.

Nicole Swanson