As much as I love Stoner Rock, I first got into music through the ‘90s Alternative Scene. I was obsessed with the Smashing Pumpkins, and from there I found bands like Local H, Pearl Jam, and the Presidents of the United States. I’ve always had a soft spot for bands capable of blending multiple styles and influences into a fresh take packed with energetic melodies and fist-pumping excitement.
Naturally, I was excited to come across Cowards and Thieves and the band’s latest release, Dedicated to Dead People. A combination of Metal, Stoner Rock, Grunge, Punk, and Pop melodies, the band channels the likes of Alice in Chains, old Queens of the Stone Age, and a variety of additional influences into a powerful musical cocktail.
Interestingly, in an interview with Slightly Fuzzed, vocalist and guitarist SB explained that Cowards and Thieves is a Pop band—which immediately calls to mind Kurt Cobain telling Rolling Stone he was trying to write the ultimate Pop song with “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Here’s SB explaining his view:
About Cowards and Thieves
Cowards and Thieves is a south Florida-based trio run by:
- SB – Vocals, Guitars, Drums
- WG – Guitars
- JS – Bass, Vocals
The band has two previous releases, the 2019 L’appel du Vide Ep. 1 EP and the 2020 Bread and Circuses EP—a work that MangoWave summed up (in part) as a combination of Kylesa, Soundgarden, and 16.
Dedicated to Dead People Album Review
Release Date: May 13, 2022
Label: Slightly Fuzzed Records
Track 1: “Law of Identity”
“Law of Identity” begins with a thick, heavy guitar tone and techniques reminiscent of Pantera—at least until the chorus. As an opener, “Law of Identity” prepares us for the album ahead: Dedicated to Dead People is going to be fast, heavy, and—more than anything else—unpredictable.
Track 2: “Divine Rule”
With a total run time of a little over three minutes, “Divine Rule” is, surprisingly, the longest song on the album. The band capitalizes on the extra space to flex their melodic side; instead of Pantera this time around, we hear a small dash of old Queens of the Stone Age. With that in mind, “Divine Rule” is one of the most accessible songs on the album, as the heavy tone is great for metalheads, and that slight fuzz should appeal to Stoner Rock fans.
Track 3: “Soothsayer”
With layers of clean and distorted vocals, “Soothsayer” holds elements of a heavy Pop/Emo Punk song—but those heavy guitar tones help balance out the equation and keep Cowards and Thieves in Metal territory. “Soothsayer” moves at a blistering clip (the entire song concludes in under two minutes), and WG’s drums pound away like anvils. There’s a strange tension in the lead guitar, but everything works together to produce a captivating and quick tune.
Track 4: “Desirous”
“Desirous” is a catchy and energetic track that’s easy to shout along to with one fist in the sky. In a live concert, this is the song that would immediately inject a second wind into the mosh pit.
Track 5: “Corrupt Transmission”
The harsh tones throughout “Corrupt Transmission” make it sound a bit like sped-up Doom (something common throughout this record). One of the heaviest tracks on the entire album, “Corrupt Transmission” successfully combines elements of Noise Rock, Industrial Rock, and Doom with the band’s signature vocal blend into a 2-minute power track.
Track 6: “White Picket Fences”
“White Picket Fences” is an acoustic interlude, a nice reprieve from the cacophony throughout Dedicated to Dead People and a casual dip into something more akin to Desert Rock territory.
Track 7: “Year of the Rat”
“Year of the Rat” is unusual in its composition, especially when compared the rest of the songs on this album. Although it starts in a heavy Doom-adjacent territory, it quickly expands its sound with multiple influences. Along with “Corrupt Transmission,” “Year of the Rat” is one of the heaviest songs on the record.
Track 8: “Dedicated to Dead People”
The last original track on the album, “Dedicated to Dead People” isn’t an actual song. Instead, it’s a voice-over discussing the human emotional response to the death of a loved one.
Track 9: “Attack of the Ghost Riders” (The Raveonettes Cover)
The first cover on the album, “Attack of the Ghost Riders” was a 2002 single by The Raveonettes. Originally a Garage Rock/Surf Rock blend, the song is reimagined here with Cowards and Thieves’ heavier guitar tones—especially that Queens of the Stone Age sound that occasionally pops through in guitar solos.
Track 10: “Blast ‘Em” (Rancid Cover)
“Blast ‘Em” was a song from Rancid in the mid-’90s, and those original Punk tones are layered up with growled vocals and heavier guitars. Interestingly, you may hear a small dash of Foo Fighters in this new interpretation.
Track 11: “Forever My Queen” (Pentagram Cover)
“Forever My Queen” is, of course, a Pentagram cover—which should please plenty of metalheads. While that original track was a lo-fi and distorted experience, this version from Cowards and Thieves is much more polished and accessible.
Final Thoughts on Dedicated to Dead People
Final Score: 8/10
Standout Tracks: “Divine Rule,” “Soothsayer,” “Desirous,” and “Attack of the Ghost Riders”
Pros: Dedicated to Dead People is a ballsy record packed with risks. Without attaching themselves to one well-defined genre, Cowards and Thieves risk alienating, well, everyone. But the band successfully blends numerous influences into a unique blend of melodic Metal that’s as radio-friendly as it is heavy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cowards and Thieves top the Doom Charts with a few underground hits in the coming years.
Cons: There are two major problems within Dedicated to Dead People. For one, some of the best performances on this album come from the covers at the end. And although there are some very strong performances on the first half of the record, I was disappointed to realize the excellent conclusion to this album entirely rested on the strength of its cover tracks. Second, a few of the experiments on Dedicated to Dead People fall flat. The start/stop patterns of “Year of the Rat” aren’t balanced enough for a full emotional punch, and “Corrupt Transmission” is heavy without leveraging the melodic charm this band flexes so well. Still, not all is lost. This is a young and clever band with plenty of ideas, and I suspect we’ll continue to see them refine their approach on future efforts.