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Magazine > Music Reviews > Death Masks
Death Masks
Published by Sthelensnow on 6/3/18 (390 reads)

Death Masks

Death Masks are a Dreampop/Shoegaze, post-punk revivalist band from St Helens, Merseyside.

Band Members
Thom Tyrer - Bass and vocals
Mike Stephens - Guitar
Paul Williams - Guitar
Matt Wilcock - Drums
Joe Oxley - Synth and vocals

Joe Oxley later left the band leaving a four-piece.

Deat Masks image

Death Mask were formed around April 2011.

The band came upon the name 'Death Masks' whilst reading a well-known broadsheet newspaper supplement. There was an article on death masks that caught their eye.

Death Masks began as a solo project for talented multi-instrumentalist Thom Tyrer, as the stress and tribulations of his former collaborative projects drove him to become a solo artist. Several raw and unpolished demos emerged from a homemade studio in his basement, demonstrating a songwriting prowess that was yet to find its voice, as Thom struggled to translate his sonic vision for the songs into actual recordings. Eight months later and this drive, accompanied by the urge to perform his songs live, lead him into recruiting two more guitarists, a drummer and a keyboard player until they became the five-piece.

Deat Masks image

All their early recorded output has been written, recorded and produced by Thom alone in a homemade basement studio. To jump from a solo artist to a five-piece is a testament to the vast sound that Thom thought his recordings could achieve and he gratefully admits that his new band mates made the new EP “the easiest recording experience of his career”.

Influences include Waiting For God, Butterfiles, The Brittas Empire, Shelley and Ever Decreasing Circles

Matt Wilcock cites his Glaswegian noise pioneers Mogwai and of course My Bloody Valentine, whilst Thom reflects on the more delicate, melodic tendencies of Norwegian producer Lindstrøm and The Cure.

Matt Wilcok, Mike Stephens and Thom Tyrer were in The Murmurs of Tension together.

Thom was in Corinthians before the Murmurs. Thom now lives in China.

Matt Wilcock was in The Tray of Seagulls Band and (he is still part of) The Hang Project. He is currently in The Bathtub Gin Band.

His solo outings go by HelixHelix.

Joe Oxley was in The VCs then The Shook Ups. His current project is a solo effort under the guise of TVAM.

Mike Stephens has been making electronic music as Telluric.

Matt Wilcock is currently involved in The Bathtub Gin Band and is the brother of Claire Wilcock who has been featured on St Helens Now in the past.

I Know A Short Cut EP released July 25, 2011

Super limited C15 cassette featuring the 4 tracks with original hand-crafted artwork. Edition of 50. Everything done by Thom Tyrer, with gratefully received advice on how to work shit from Mike Stephens. Free digital download at

Left A Message / Stares **FREE Download single** available from www.deathmasks.bandcamp.com Music and video © Death Masks 2012.

On 25th March 2013 Death Masks released a split CD with Tear Talk on Edils Recordings.

Tear Talk / Death Masks EP released March 25, 2013

3 Exclusive songs each by two of the finest young bands from the UK. TEAR TALK (Bleeding Gold Records) give you three slow, touching yet hypnotic and captivating tracks. Beautifully bleak but overwhelmingly charming TEAR TALK take the lo-fi approach without losing any quality to their songs, If anything it enhances the listening experience. TEAR TALK have released 1 EP and 7" single through San Diego (USA) Bleeding Gold Records. We recommend you seek them out. DEATH MASKS have stepped it up on this release. A sound that brings to mind the wonderful indie of the late 80s/early 90s. Touches of shoegaze that shimmer through scratchy guitar hooks. Lush production captures DEATH MASKS dark brooding pop songs perfectly. Death Masks previous work can be downloaded for FREE from our bandcamp.

The EP was released limited to 100 black vinyl style CDs with Sleeve by ACD SLEEVE on a black vinyl style CD. Now SOLD OUT.

Reviews:

*THE SOUND OF CONFUSION*
A bit of a tough call this one. Edils Records release a split EP this week, it contains three tracks from Liverpool band Tear Talk and three from Manchester's Death Masks. There's little to choose between them but we have to say that 'What I See' by Death Masks wins by a nose. It's a quite brilliant, ringing piece of experimental indie with gorgeous guitars and a pile of melody and is generally one of those songs you can just listen to on repeat, but check out the rest of the EP for more quality tunes.

*IMPROPAGANDA*
Liverpool based Edils Recordings have releases a split EP from Tear Talk and Death Masks, two of the Merseyside region’s most promising young bands. The opening three tracks come from Tear Talk who are also involved with the brilliant Bleeding Gold Records. There is a charm about their bleak music as can be heard on the brilliant As You Were, while XXY has some brilliant synths whilst verging on the shoegaze. The intro to Put It To Bed is more upbeat but the track still has a gloomy edge to it which is emphasises by some brilliant understated vocals.

Death Masks are a band who were new to me and they didn’t disappoint with their own brand indie pop that has obvious, heavy influence from some of the great eighties bands. Solutions really sets the tone for their contribution to the record and is full of shimmering guitars and fantastic hooks. Next up is What I See which is a fine piece of pop music and builds up into a surprisingly rousing crescendo. Finally Who Built The Walls is the most sedate moment from Death Masks but is still a fine way to wrap up a brilliant record.

*AUDIO APOCALYPSE*
Yet another fine release from EDiLs Recordings as they seek to narrow their focus. From the earlier days of sprawling (but very welcome) compilations, they are bringing forth a more refined approach. This split release from Liverpool’s own Tear Talk and Death Masks is a fine lesson in brooding, atmospheric music that isn’t afraid to show neither its light nor dark side.

Tear Talk take up the first 50% of the record and opener ‘As You Were’ immediately calls to mind the hazy rush of Neil Young’s ‘Psychedelic Pill’. The distorted wash remains as a backdrop throughout, carried along by drumming that earns plaudits by being both steady and inventive.

‘XXY’ is a gaunt, fragile number with enough room for the bass to run with the ball for a spell, while ‘Put It To Bed’ combines the best of the two previous tracks. Anything left unsaid is now with Death Masks…

…and a fine job they do of it too. From a great showing at Sound City, the five-piece are due to move onwards and upwards. ‘Solutions’ is a sprightly number, all jangle and shine with a hint of foreboding lying underneath.

‘What I See’ stews in its own juices for a while before powering to a beautiful crescendo. The EP’s closing track ‘Who Built The Walls?’ apes Tear Talk in as much as bringing together the best elements of their other offerings.

Another showcase of the best Liverpool currently has to offer, with EDiLS also set to release Double Echo’s debut LP imminently. In a month that saw a host of international artists ply their trade in the city’s venues, this split is an indication that this city can match them pound-for-pound, song-for-song.

End of Reviews.

'Solutions' by Death Masks appeared on Unpopular's 'I Know We're Special' mix compilation on 2nd April 2013.

On Thursday 11 April 2013 Red Bull Studios relocated for the day to take over Liverpool’s iconic Parr Street studios for a collaborative project centred around the city's annual music meetup: Sound City.

Based on the success of 2012’s collaboration between Scouse quintet The Tea Street Band and their track Disco Lights, Red Bull Studios and local publication Bido Lito hooked up with The Coral’s Bill Ryder-Jones to recruit one band from the area to record and perform at the Red Bull Studios Liverpool Sound City Closing Party.

After much deliberation Bido Lito and Bill declared five piece Death Masks from St Helens the winners. Thom, Mike, Paul, Mat and Joe packed up their gear and made their way to Parr Street to work under the guidance of The Coral’s former lead guitarist and Red Bull Studios engineer Dan Trachtenberg.

The band spent time jamming before getting down to the nitty-gritty recording their respective parts for 90s influenced indie track From A Distance. Red Bull Studios London will release the track the day after they take the stage at the official Liverpool Sound City Closing Party alongside Syron , Egytian Hip Hop, Delphic and more.

From A Distance released 13 May 2013

Deat Masks image

This track was recorded at the Red Bull Studios pop-up studio at the iconic Liverpool's Parr Street facility alongside The Coral’s Bill Ryder-Jones and Bido Lito.

From A Distance Video released 13 May 2013

Red Bull Studios, Parr Street, Liverpool.

What I See published 20 June 2013

Performing 'What I See' at our Mobile Upload Location at St Luke's Bombed Out Church during Liverpool Calling, Sunday 16th June.

OBLIGATORY RECORD OF THE WEEK

Death Masks - What I See

"A bit of a tough call this one. Edils Records release a split EP this week, it contains three tracks from Liverpool band Tear Talk and three from Manchester's Death Masks. There's little to choose between them but we have to say that 'What I See' by Death Masks wins by a nose. It's a quite brilliant, ringing piece of experimental indie with gorgeous guitars and a pile of melody and is generally one of those songs you can just listen to on repeat, but check out the rest of the EP for more quality tunes." - The Sound of Confusion, 25 March 2013.

Queens Language released June 29, 2015

Released on Edils Records. "Once the vehicle for Thom Tyrer’s lo-fi bedroom pop, Death Masks are now a four piece band also consisting of Mike Stephens, Paul Williams and Matt Wilcock. They blend elements of late-80’s shoegaze with playful pop melodies and expansive psychedelic breakdowns. 'Always Lost' features on their new 6 track mini-album 'Queen’s Language', which is available as a free download from Edils Recordings." - The BBC Introducing Mixtape by Tom Robinson.

The Wonderful Sounds of the Melody Ranch Volume 17 - Broadcast January 2015

Thom Tyrer did an interview and played a couple of songs for The Wonderful Sounds of the Melody Ranch. Orange Juice, Fred Frith, David Kilgour and Beach Boys. Thom comes in from about 26 mins.

The Open Door Centre, Liverpool

The broadcast above is by The Open Door Centre in Liverpool. I came across this broadcast because of Thom Tyrer's invlovement, however, if you listen to it in full you may get some insight about what the organisation actually does. They work on a membership format. You become a member and can then access as many of their services as you like, including Creative Therapeutic Support if you are feeling down, low, stressed or anxious, numerous different activities within music and the arts, unique training and volunteering opportunities and much more. Membership is free, with no waiting lists. It's a charity run by young people, for young people.

http://theopendoorcentre.org/

Quotes

"Featuring in March's issue of Bido Lito!, buzz isn't even the word to describe what's going on with Death Masks at the moment. Having just released a BLOODY MARVELOUS joint EP with Tear Talk in March on Edils Recordings, something truly special is happening here. Come see for yourself." - Bido Lito! 25th April 2013

"Death Masks - Memory. St Helens band Death Masks are probably still reeling from the excitement of being awarded Obligatory Record Of The Week on this site last year, but that hasn't stopped them recording more music, and this new track is another corker. The quintet have taken some guitars and made them sound great in more ways than one. Add a strong melody and fitting production and you have something very good on your hands." - Sound of Consusion blog.

"This tune from Death Masks snuggles up cozily by the fireplace (as one does) with a perky drumbeat and some plainly dressed yet tightly woven guitar picking. Tyrer belts out a bitter-sweet melody in a manner reminiscent of veteran Autumn lovers Fleet Foxes, displaying a prowess for emotive tunefulness and powerful folk-rock dynamics." - ALTERED ZONES

"Tyrer’s solemn croon nestles between the swooning chimes of the wall of guitars and undercurrents of fuzz to make something simultaneously heart swelling and dispiriting." - ABEANO

"It's a quite brilliant, ringing piece of experimental indie with gorgeous guitars and a pile of melody and is generally one of those songs you can just listen to on repeat." - RECORD OF THE WEEK - SOUND OF CONFUSION

"Death Masks, coming highly recommended by those in the know. And they filled out the Academy of Arts and dispensed with some fairly high-octane power-pop that errs towards a gloomy-romance angle. They look most likely to be the next big hitters in Liverpool, so get in there while you can." - GETINTOTHIS

"DEATH Masks have got a lot of tongues wagging and with good reason. Initially a one-man project that has swelled into a weighty five-piece, the group are riding the crest of wave; shafts of light between their portents of doom. Fans of the morose classics of Joy Division and The Cure might find some new kindred spirits in Death Masks." - Liverpool Echo

Deat Masks image

Selected festivals and gigs:

Dog & Partridge, Bolton, 6 April 2012 with Total Victory and Codex Leicester
GlastonFerret 2012, The Ferret, Preston, 23 June 2012
Tank, St Helens, 7 July 2012
The Dovedale Social, Liverpool, 6 September 2012
The Castle Hotel, Manchester, 8 October 2012 with Echo Lake and By The Sea
Bar Java, St Helens, 21 March 2013 with Neil Jarvis
The Jackalope, Manchester, 21 April 2013 with Frazer King and Ramshackles
Bido Lito! Social Club, The Caledonia, Liverpool, 25 April 2013
Liverpool Sound City 2013, Art Academy, Liverpool, 4 May 2013
Liverpool Calling, St Luke's Bombed Out Church, Liverpool, 16 June 2013
The Cavern, Mathew Street, Liverpool, 20 June 2013 supporting Sugermen with Teresa Stern, recorded live for the Dave Monks Show on BBC Radio Merseyside.
The Tudor House Hotel, Wigan, 19 July 2013 with Neil Jarvis & Band and Siblings
Festevol, Kazimir, Liverpool, 10 August 2013
Fallow Cafe, Manchester, 14 September 2013
The Dog & Partridge, Bolton, 23 November 2013
The Castle Hotel, Manchester, 18 December 2013
The Shipping Forecast, Liverpool, 30 January 2014 with Filthy Boy and Soho Riots
Liverpool Sound City, Korova, 2 May 2014
Gullivers, Manchester, 20 November 2014
Maguires Pizza Bar, Liverpool, 21 November 2014

Related

The Hang Project
The Bathtub Gin Band

Licences:

Standard YouTube Licence
SoundCloud Terms of Use
Bandcamp Terms of Use
Vimeo Terms of Service

Except where otherwise noted, original recordings, videos, artworks etc. are copyright of their respective songwriters/performers/publishers/artists or whatever is applicable to that particular work with All rights reserved.

References/Links
All links accessed and working on 6 March 2018.

Facebook
Queens Language on Edils Records Bandcamp
Bido Lito! - March 2013
Liverpool Noise - 29th March 2013
Unpopular's 'I Know We're Special'
- 2 April 2013
Red Bull Studios - 17th April 2013
The BBC Introducing Mixtape by Tom Robinson - 19 July 2015
The Wonderful Sounds of the Melody Ranch

Thanks to Matt Wilcock for his significant contributions.

This article was created, compiled and produced by Barry Grady. 6 March 2018.

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