Like most of the music that was released within the last two years, The Dahmers’ Witching Hour EP was released at the tail end of 2020 into the ether and left to float around aimlessly with no live avenue to promote. Combine this with the fact that the quartet is from Sweden, there is a fair chance you have never heard of them, if you live in America. For those of you that have had the pleasure of enjoying their music and/or catching them live, hopefully you can attest that The Dahmers are a perfect example of a band that has solidified their sound and aesthetic. The band absolutely nails what they are going for: a power-pop, garage punk mashup with nothing but horror themes. The Misfits created the genre, but The Dahmers have taken it to new heights and created something all their own. Their most recent release is as good a place as any to get acquainted, if you have not already.
In just under nine minutes, the band presents three swathes of lyrically atmospheric horror scenes, pushed forward by well crafted, jangly garage pop punk. Most every song in their catalogue focuses on a brief moment or feeling, one that could be felt by looking at any Giallo era to mid-80’s horror film poster. Opening track “Quiet Squealer” matches the below lyrics with buzzsaw guitars, pop vocal harmonies, plenty of reverb, and a little bit of piano:
“Silent hollow dream
Cold waves, drowning scream
High winds blushing eyes
Maggots rotting growth
Dreaming never got me anything
Silent, empty, all alone
THE QUIET SQUEALER “
The juxtaposition between the music and lyrics is what makes their songs work so well; many bands that play this style have lyrics about partying, attitude, women, etc., which is fine, but there is something special with how something so bleak looking on paper sounds so fun. The vocal round for “Silent, empty, all alone” is a treat in itself. The songs are put together well, each part locking in and providing a bit of depth and nuance, with repeated listens usually yielding a new thing to focus on.
“Brain Spiders” blows by with a sing along chorus, with only a gritty drum and bass driven bridge to round everything out. Probably the best track on the EP is closer “Blood Red Moon”, which provides the inspiration for the artwork and title. Bringing everything down to a mid-tempo works towards building a full vibe for the expanded lyrics, as well as letting their more pop side come out with harmonized back-up vocals, underlying synth, and tandem guitar solo. The track crescendos at the end, finally breaking on the shore and leaving the memory of the chorus to echo in the recesses of your mind.
If you are looking for something with more depth in the horror punk genre, look no further than The Dahmers. While they do not entirely fit within the scope musically, they make up for it by creating something entirely their own. Blending their love of everything haunting with garage pop sensibilities, it comes off as a mixture of Sweet, The Stranglers, The Kinks, Goblin, The Misfits, ABBA, and so many others from that era, and makes total sense why they have toured with The Hives and The Dwarves in the past few years. If goofy make-up and costumes are really what you need to get spooky, then it should also be mentioned they all wear matching skeleton body suits while playing. Pretty cool, honestly. Do yourself a favor and check out anything this band has done, whether audio or video. They are a fun, talented group that hopefully will come stateside in the near future.