Miguel And The Living Dead 
Demo 2004
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman

Miguel And The Living Dead: the name says it all!  The interesting thing here is that this brand of lo-fi Ghoul Rock hails from Poland, rather than the expected NYC, LA, or Germany.  Apparently, the band’s founder, Nerve69, decided that Warsaw’s Goth scene was headed toward disastrous integration and convolution, where the new blood in the scene couldn’t differentiate between Goth, Post Punk, cheesy Goth Metal or EBM/Electro. Sound familiar?   Alas, the plague of cluelessness is closer to world domination.

The good news is that Miguel And The Living Dead have successfully begun to set the record straight as it were, and have presented five tracks that range from raging Misfits inspired horror punk, Cramped psychobilly (“Train Of The Dead”) and washes of eerie rhythmic claustrophobia (“Salem’s Lot”).  There is a humbling apology for the lack of production on the demo, but the raw and b-horror movie decadence is well suited by the limited roughness of the recording.  Truthfully, it really isn’t as bad as some of the things I have heard. The guitars buzz with grating gloom, ringing haphazardly and discordantly above relentless upbeat drums and rumbling bass.

The opening title track has probably the most direct appeal, sounding like it was lifted right off of “Walk Among Us” but injected with the thrashy angst of “Earth A.D.”  Samples recounting zombie plagues (however worn out) work well, as do the surprising chimes of creepy guitar.  However what really sticks out about M&TLD are Slavik’s lugubrious, echoing vocal bellows.  It has to be a Polish thing, because the stark vocalist of Variété has similar graven intensity and expresses the same rigid sense of torment.  His voice is truly stellar on “Aliens Wear Sunglasses,” reverberating and throaty, adding an impressive sense of gloom that is lacking in far too many bands.   “Salem’s Lot” is positively chilling, with dizzying typhoons of guitar fuzz, creepy watery chimes, and punctuations of low-end piano chords.  The vocals cry out like anguished howls from within a barren tomb.  Of all the classic vampire tales to interpret with music, I am both surprised and somehow pleased to see homage paid to one of Mr. King’s most effective early tales.  This must also be a Polish thing because Americans would be too ‘cool’ to admit they like Stephen King.  Disclaimer: Just his early novels!  (See?)

Though the song titles and lyrical explorations suggest a thoroughly campy affair, the music has a sincerity and darker urgency to it that suggests that M&TLD have a sense of maturity that one might not expect. I personally am not too partial to the zombies and all the arguably corny imagery of contemporary Death Rock (see my review of Penis Flytrap) but I didn’t have to ignore my uptight conceptions of what is dark and cool to enjoy this.  This still won me over despite my usual resistance.   The stark black & white visual collages of all things spooky and putrescent reflects a pure old school sensibility, and the band definitely has the look down to a tee.  But all of that aside, this is an impressive demo that despite its production drawbacks introduces a confident new addition to the legacy of Death Rock and Ghoul Punk.  This demo successfully testifies for the band’s potential. I am positive that the aural threat would absolutely quadruple in a live setting.  And finally, the very existence of M&TLD attests to the popularity and universality of the genre.  So these are all very uplifting things.

I can’t imagine these guys would want much for this EP – the shipping would be the only minor inconvenience. Its short and DIY but will serve as a very interesting international treasure for fans. All Death Rockers and such need to check into these guys, so wander on over to the website and see what you can see.  I don’t suspect most would be disappointed.

Track List:
1.) Miguel And The Living Dead
2.) Aliens Wear Sunglasses
3.) The Night Of Terror
4.) Salem’s Lot
5.) Train Of The Dead

Miguel And The Living Dead is:
Nerve69: guitar, drum programs, founder
Slavik:  guitar, vocals
September: bass
Niuniek El Diablo: drums

Miguel And The Living Dead – Official Website: