Death By Lions

The Rock Song We Need Right Now, “Hold The Line.”

On one of my podcasts this month, I made the comment that I was surprised no good bands (or political songs) really came out of the P45 era. With all that aggression, with the massive cultural shift of going from President 44 to President 45 - you would think at least SOMETHING would come up. Well, thanks to Nate Johnivan and Death by Lions out of Michigan, I stand corrected.

Death by Lions is a heavy rock quartet, which each member being a part of several other bands. The beautiful thing about a band like this, is that you can really zero in on the sound that the BAND wants to create and employ, because everybody has other musical options they’re pursuing to keep their creative souls fulfilled. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find some of these guys playing in a folk, jazz or EDM project - that’s the way it works with proficient musicians. Let’s dive into the track!

It’s is an all-start, key of D, BPM about 159 BPM. You can tell right off the bat this thing is beautifully produced. There’s great separation in the mix with the multiple guitars, and the band (presumably self-produced) does a great job of applying the proper layers all throughout the track. Case in point, notice how the track starts with 1 guitar in your right ear, then when Nate comes in signing, they add the second guitar in the left speaker. When they move to the back half of that first verse, the dueling guitars take different parts, with the lead now switching over to the left. Smart production there, nice building.

Notice too how absolutely clean those drums sound, in the midst of such heavy guitar tones, and how the bass fits nicely in the mix. This is just as good as anything you’d hear coming out of the best studios in LA, NYC or Nash, kudos to the engineer.

When the chorus hits, it’s a beautiful chorus of gang vocals, akin to Paramore (“That’s What You Get”) or A Day to Remember (“The Downfall of Us All”), but much closer to AC/DC. Lyrically, if you follow along with what Nate is singing about, the vocal production makes perfect sense.

As the song progresses into the second verse, I love how they give the listener a little bit of a break with everyone dropping out and the vocals coming through a megaphone - similar to a rally. Lyrically, you owe it to yourself to dive into what Nate is saying, by the “sheer magnitude of it all.” His comments on what cheap TVs have done to society, the well observed points that everyone has chosen sides, the donation of blood and how we’re in a cycle that’s reminiscent of a 100 year flood. Johnivan’s command of language is stunning. His ability to weave a tale and keep the listener engaged is exceptional. Via email he told me, “I find it hard to articulate complex thoughts and have it still be fun to listen to, and this one I'm able to get my point across without feeling like I'm too on the nose with it. I also see it becoming more and more relevant as we get closer to the black hole that is the upcoming election.” I agree completely, in some respects he left it vague enough that either side could claim this song as an anthem - the mark of an exceptional writer.

This 2:56 power anthem culminates with an all out call to action. I gives me visions of Rage Against the Machine and The Clash (“the only band that ever mattered”), working together together to change the world. In so many respects, this is the rock song we need right now.

Check it out on Wavlake and send them some #Sats!

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