Deadline is one of the few old-school heavy metal bands in South Africa. They occupy a very unique niche in the South African music industry. Their music is a combination of various genres and ultimately aims at reviving the spirit of 1980s metal and heavy rock music. The 6-piece band is based in Pretoria and comprised of real-life lawyers and auditors who spend their nights resurrecting metal music, frontman Jessy Switchblade refers to the band as “an 80s band without the moerse attitude”. The band has received critical acclaim from fans worldwide, their shelves are lined with South African Metal Music Awards and earlier this year they were set to open for the iconic metal band Judas Priest. Deadline gave PDBY an exclusive listen to their second album Cathedral Point ahead of its release on 26 June 2020.
The album opens with the titular track, “Cathedral Point”, an instrumental compilation of organs and choral voices. This instrumental gives nothing away in terms of what to expect from the rest of the album but it certainly creates an atmosphere as listeners brace themselves for what is to come. The album has a diverse range of lyrical content, some songs take inspiration from life and others are like anthems in their calls to action, reminiscent of the arena rock of the 1980s. It’s easy to imagine that these anthems will really come into their own when the band performs them live. Lyrics like “the fire in our hearts keeps us alive” and “let me live before I die” (from “Only the Strong Survive” and “Before I Die” respectively) will truly sound their best at a live show. The band’s cited influences of Iron Maiden and W.A.S.P. are evident in their music, but their sound also invokes some icons of the hard rock of yesteryear, “Dark Divination” stands out particularly with an Alice Cooper tone.
“an 80s band without the moerse attitude“
The influence of the 1980s is evident in the synthesizer intro of “High Tops” and “Bullet Belts”, the longest song on the album which features an intriguing narrative. The song tells the story of a group of heavy metal superheroes who fight for their music and establish their city as a haven for hard rock. Another stand out on the album is the penultimate track, “Shapeshifter”. This track demonstrates some of the band’s versatility by starting with a sound similar to that of a music box, but when the guitars and drums really kick in it becomes clear that this is no music box song. The instrumental interlude in this track is more peaceful as the music box chime from the intro returns along with the album’s only real showcase of bass, the song rounds out with another guitar solo; a reminder to listeners that while they are comfortable venturing into different sounds, Deadline is ultimately here for one thing only: the revive metal music.
“when the guitars and drums really kick in it becomes clear that this is no music box song.“
The album ends with “The Watchers”, a song that was revisited after being dropped from their debut album. There are stronger songs on Cathedral Point that could have capped the album off better but “The Watchers” still offers the instrumentals and vocals that fans of the band will love and prove once again that having a band with three guitarists can really be an advantage.
In the first songs of the album, it seems impossible for the band to sustain the same energy throughout the rest of the songs but somehow Deadline manages to do so, hopefully, that same energy translates into their live shows too. Cathedral Point is a good album, for fans of the band and fans of the genre in general who would like to get into South Africa’s slowly growing metal scene. Cathedral Point is available to listen to on 26 June, followed by an online album launch with the band performing their tracks, old and new, on the 27 June; you can find out all about this from @deadlinemetal on Instagram.