DEADSY, Commencement (Elementree/Dreamworks, 2002)
Nowadays, if you’re still craving a few smears of that late-1990s grunge/goth/rap/metal hybridism, your only real resource is Criss Angel. Korn has gone desperately acoustic for their most recent album, and the legion of glowering mooks who laid turds in the wake of their success have largely slunk back into the fallow shadows. That is, unless you still have a cutout bin copy of Deadsy’s Commencement floating around. And if you have Commencement, then you’ve got “The Key to Gramercy Park.”
“Face! White! Revenge of the Hittites!” – P. Exeter Blue (aka Elijah Blue Allman, son of Greg Allman and Cher) knew how to make an impression. The “Hittites” bit was the ultimate line of “Gramercy,” which was the ultimate Deadsy song, which was conveniently slotted first on Commencement. Its bottom end blasted away courtesy of the solid fuel compression so beloved to loud rock producers of time, and its chords lurched and snapped like the basilisks loosed on trespassers to Blue’s palatial (and spooky) estate. Plus, to top off the mix, an eerie synth line seemingly lifted from Cabaret Voltaire’s Red Mecca. Deadsy made plenty of awful music, and they won’t be forgiven for that. But “Gramercy” is so screwy, such a fucked-up, decadent, and beautiful moment in the slimy hell of late 1990s alt.rock, that it suggests in retrospect just what could have been.
It’s too bad the band counted Korn among their benefactors. The affiliation cost them, because it forced their music into the sonic template of brutish and stupid. Commencement features at least one song as great as “Gramercy” (the gloomy swirl of “Mansion World”) and a few that just miss, like “Lake Waramaug” or Deadsy’s leftfield cover of the Sebadoh classic “Brand New Love.” Too bad Blue wasn’t given the freedom to be as silly and hybrid goth/metal/puffy shirt as he wanted to be. We might have had more to remember from the rap-metal age than one genius song.