Deadwood Forest - Mellodramatic - 1999


The United States of America are probably not the country with the greatest tradition in progressive rock, and there are just a few remarkable bands coming out of this country (compared to other nations like Sweden, England or France, whose prog scenes have seen plenty of astonishing acts); but there is actually one characteristic in the USA: when there is a good band, you can be sure that it is not only a good band, but rather an impressive one. Deadwood Forest is definitely one of those cases.

This quartet includes Ryan Guidry on vocals and guitar, Andy McWilliams on drums, Kurt Coburn (not Cobain, please!) on bass and Mitch Mignano on keyboards. Their music is full of energy and includes various great instrumental passages, it is also melodic and delicate thanks to the inclusion of acoustic themes and imposing keyboard layers. But I think that one of the most important parts is that they do sound modern, it is not a copy of traditional art-rock from the seventies or eighties and their sound goes perfectly with their time without falling into vulgar musical simplicities more typical of the latest years either.


"Mellodramatic" has a name that fits perfectly with the music. The tracks can vary, but they always create this special melodramatic atmosphere (I wonder if the name Mellodramatic is also related to Mellotrons…). The style goes from long instrumental parts to dark ambiance's in the style of modern Scandinavian progressive rock (like Anglagärd), whereas the vocals follow a more traditional American way (like Spock’s Beard), or even with a slight touch of Pink Floyd ("OCD"). The group also makes use of changing rhythms frequently ("The City in the Sea"), gothic ambiance's mixed with acoustic music ("Stolen Smile") or even the fusion of industrial-like percussion with a jazz-rock approach ("-----------", and not, it is not a mistake, that’s the title). "Dry" reminds in part of Alan Parson’s classic works and blends its influence with an obscure progressive rock style. Another interesting part is definitely "Departure", a short track (2:35) that closes the album with its dark hypnotic vocals, acoustic guitars and melodic keyboards. Simply beautiful.

I may say that there is also a rare element that was incorporated to one track on this record ("Stolen Smile"): a Theremin. For those who don’t know that instrument, it is a semi-classical one that was created during the first half of the 20th Century and is one of the ancestors of synthesizers, I only remember having heard it in very few rock (or even pop) themes, like "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys. Not common, but original indeed.

The music itself is interesting and I think that this group did something right: limiting the time to only 47:44 minutes by choosing correctly all the melodies and creating a coherent disc (and this is a common problem nowadays: filling 74 minutes on a CD with 25 of them that sometimes shouldn’t have been included). A second thing: all the songs create a unique atmosphere, like modeling a special mood that will be there for the whole oeuvre. . An extra point: they have a personality of their own, they do sound American (which is normal…) but not like Americans trying to do European music like other bands. Their sound is neat. On the other hand, I think that promoting this album a bit better wouldn’t be that bad, would it? I heard of "Mellodramatic" from a friend, who’d heard it from a friend who…. Come on! It’s time to make use of the different existing ways of letting people know that your music exists! Promotion, gentlemen, your CD needs more promotion.


Finally, I would like to add that those who like melodic sections, rhythm changes and dark passages will definitely find here a good choice, but for those who prefer more experimental works, this is not the case. Deadwood Forest: an exciting band. "Mellodramatic": a fascinating album.

author - date - rating - label

Enrique Gómez - January 2001 -   - Shroom Productions