By Greg Pratt
Chicago's one-man metal machine COMMON DEAD (also known as Andrew Laurenson) has just dropped his latest full-length, Allegorize, which follows up last year's Diatribe in an impressive manner. It adds more melody and variety to the sound, a sound which is rooted in groove-heavy metal like PANTERA or MACHINE HEAD but also isn't afraid to venture into terrains much less metal as well.
"There is certainly more variety, and more personality, when you listen to songs like 'Most People' and 'Modern Obsolete'," says Laurenson. "But Allegorize is definitely a personal evolution. I mean, Common Dead always bent genres, even on the self-titled back in 2009, when I was really just trying things out and kind of rushing myself. Then a couple years in, I saw where I was gravitating on the whole metal chart. My riffs are technical, they lean towards that groove-thrash, or death-groove area, whatever you want to call it. I tend to bounce around there."
Interesting imagining progression happening considering that the band is, well, not a band, so that progression and change is just the result of Laurenson growing and taking the music wherever it needs to go. But let's get back to square one: why is this a one-man band and not a full band project? He says that it's the only way he knows.
"Like in sports, you have football players, guys who work as a team, but then you have boxers. I work like a boxer, with my support on the side, but the fight's on me," he says. "Can't explain it. There's a stigma attached to that, like you're a narcissist or you don't play well with others, but that's not it. I'm just getting things done. I'm married, I have family and friends, I'm not some troll hiding far and away, but I'm still very independent. That comes with problems, sure. I haven't really toured, only a few low key gigs. No label support; it's too risky for them. I run into guys willing to help interpret the music live, then personal stuff yanks them out, that has nothing to do with me, and I'm back to square one. So, fuck it, you know? Keep moving, soldier. That's my attitude."
So move he does, onwards and upwards, creating some cool sounds on the new disc, the coolest of which venture furthest away from the groove metal sounds and into more interesting, atmospheric, non-metal places. Laurenson does this through some really cool and unique guitar work, although when asked what he feels his biggest strength is, he, surprisingly, doesn't say it's the six-string.
"I think having film roots, spending years with cameras and editing, is a big help," he says. "I'm able to put together some pretty solid videos largely on my own, to support my songs. A lot of people don't realize a couple of those are a one-man job. The video for 'Modern Obsolete', I tried out some animation and did the cartoon bits on my own, too."
Looking ahead to the future, those who enjoyed this new one can expect a longer break between releases than the relatively short gap between this one and the last. And in regards to it ever becoming more than a one-man band, well, don't hold your breath.
"That has always been an open concept, ever since the beginning," admits Laurenson. "If the stars align that way, great. Hasn't happened yet. Now, with the state of the industry, it's really brutal for bands to find the right people. I need honest folks. Too many bullshit artists, going for the image first, or sales first. I don't care what's selling on Billboard, I genuinely do not give a shit. Good for them, but I'm over here, doing this and that. They don't have to like it, either. At least I'd have a body of work I've helped create and if anyone wants to help build it, that's cool, too."
For more details visit Commondead.com