A blind hole is a mining term relating to a drilled hole that never breaks through to the other side. But, when used as a metaphor, it’s an idea that takes on a somewhat darker guise. Figuring out just what Dead In The Dirt mean by The Blind Hole is anyone’s guess. Although the band’s political and ideological viewpoints are ordinarily a massive factor in what they write (they’re straightedge and vegan) they’ve decided to try and make this album slightly more universal in tone by tackling subjects that are familiar to everyone. Yet without the aid of a lyric sheet, this noble gesture of inclusivity is somewhat muted because it is practically impossible to unpick the howls of Blake Connally and Bo Orr.
Maybe that’s the point. Maybe The Blind Hole is all about trying to unravel confused narrative, sound, and existence and always coming up short. In the abyss, there are no answers and each and every one of us is an individual pit of existential turmoil with no end, just a mass of screaming questions. Or maybe this is an album of roaring metal-encased hardcore that’s rendered unintelligible by Dead In The Dirt’s frenzied delivery and that’s the point. When all is said and done at the heart of all of us is an unfocused rage that threatens to spill out in a tumultuous cacophony, and Dead In The Dirt are just pointing this out by making an album that seems a pretty decent like-for-like representation/interpretation. At times, the squalling feedback that serves as an ever present wail on the majority of these songs takes on the sound of a drill bit burning into rock, the gears that drive it screaming under duress. It’s as if the band is driving onwards into the unknown, desperate to break through to the other side. When drilling (feedback) doesn’t work, they simply employ alternative techniques such as sledgehammer riffs, grinding exposition, and plenty of short sharp shocks.
Charging through 22 songs in 24 minutes, The Blind Hole is, if nothing else, an intense experience. It is perhaps best summed up during one of the few moments of relative calm. At the close of Cop, Jim Harrison reads his poem Barking.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world, but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.
Dead In The Dirt spend the entirety of The Blind Hole screaming no, and conjuring thunder. Their hardcore fury is the sound of a beaten dog let off the leash, whether it be encapsulated in the grumbling dirge of Caged, the charge of Swelling/Strength Through Restraint, or the all out punk bellowing of opening track Suffer.
They’re most effective however when they switch through the gears and mix things up a little. Although the majority of the songs only hang around for a minute, Dead In The Dirt are quite adept at changing tack mid song, no matter how ridiculous it might be. It’s quite a peculiar experience to hear a band accelerate to apparently impossible speed only to slam the brakes on and revert to crawling pace. It’s the musical equivalent on smashing into the crash barriers of a motorway at full speed, but threatens a higher chance of whiplash. Knife In The Feathers is a particularly potent example of this jarring tempo change and with sudden braking applied it segues neatly into Halo Crown, a song that practically drips primordial sludge. If there’s anything at the end of The Blind Hole, it’s almost certainly the owner of the apparently unevolved growl that inhabits the tail end of this song.