Closer Than Kin – Dead Flowers for a Dying Lover

Closer Than Kin
Dead Flowers for a Dying Lover

As a fan of heavy metal, hair metal, hardcore, and screamo, I must admit that I completely blew a gasket when I first heard Closer Than Kin’s Dead Flowers for a Dying Lover. I felt like I was listening to a Fear of God record, only with vocals that alternated between controlled hair metal wails and Matt from PMFS’s throaty screams.
I’ll be honest, though – I really didn’t expect much out of this EP at first. The black-and-white CD art shows a photo of a woman with a bloody handprint on her cheek, with another bloody print on the wall above her head. The band name is also ‘written in blood’ on the wall, and the back of the booklet shows the bloody body of the same woman lying in a bathtub. Between the cover art, the name of the EP, and the fact that this appears to be self-released, I truly expected this to be some sort of terrible, corner-of-a-basement-recorded goth crap.
Instead, my ears were greeted with punk/metal guitars, harshly growled vocals, and quick double-bass pedal drum action – and that was just the two-minute intro. The title track is probably the best material here, mixing harshly melodic elements of hardcore and ‘screamo’ with a metal song structure. The song goes double-time for the chorus, with two vocalists alternating sung and screamed vocals over the frenzied rhythm track. The guitars just shred, whether they’re chugging out fast-paced power chords or slower, not-based rhythm lines, and the vocals (especially the screamed stuff) are intense as hell.
Of course, intense is the general theme of the release. From the completely metal lead rhythm guitar opening of “If Demons Could Weep” to the slowed down, bruising rhythm that the track settles into for a spell, everything about this EP is downright nasty in its intensity. About halfway through “Demons,” I realized that the vocals that are actually sung on this EP sound a lot like a toned down Rob Tyner of the MC5.
“When Toys are Traded for Tears” might have a hokey name, but the track opens with a slower, more grinding purpose to it that rings as the most anthemic listen of the disc. Of course, the band takes everything and triple-times the rhythm and the guitars while adding a more than healthy dose of guttural, almost sandblasted vocals. “The Decay of Autumn” is a bit more on the controlled side of things (at least, for this recording it is), losing the ‘metal’ edge and ending the EP on a more straight-ahead hardcore note. Actually, the track really ‘ends’ after about three minutes, leaving the last two-and-a-half minutes of the disc to a warped amalgamation of whispers and ominous, demented keyboards.
Well, in all honesty, yeah, I know this description probably makes Closer Than Kin sound cheesy. The lyrics seem a bit … well, corny at times, to be honest. The song titles are a bit on the goth side, too. Fortunately, though, song titles and lyrics are nothing more than words, because the entire Closer to Kin product as a whole rocked me six ways from Sunday, musically. Dead Flowers for a Dying Lover is remarkably and caustically screamalicious. Recommended to hardcore/screamo fans.