Live Review of A Dead Forest Index at Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles

Opening for Chelsea Wolfe, an interesting band called A Dead Forest Index surprised me with their melancholic soundscapes, I actually could even use the term landscape in their case since their music was extremely cinematic, evoking bleak landscapes, with powerful drum beats and minimalist guitar effects. The music was vast but only performed by a duo, two brothers, Adam Sherry on vocals and guitar and Sam Sherry on drums. They started by lugubrious compositions with a gothic vibe and I first thought they were English, and I was not completely wrong as they base themselves between Melbourne and London but are originally from New Zealand.

Playing under a very dim light, their set was a series of poetic multi-inspired compositions, rich and diverse as they have drawn their influences from artists as diverse as ‘Indian and Andalusian origin, Romanian lăutari troupe Taraf de Haidouks’ , William Blake, The Velvet Underground with Nico, Scott Walker, Swans with Jarboe, and Antony and the Johnsons.


They seemed to prepare themselves for a battle a few times, slowly growing an intensity rarely heard in live music, building a heavy atmosphere that could land on your head and shoulders like the world’s infinite sadness. Adam Sherry’s ethereal, almost androgynous, hymnal-like vocals with sparse instrumentation was installing a very morose tone, and as I was watching a guy next to me wearing a Joy Division t-shirt, it could have been Ian Curtis all over again, but it wasn’t. Some of their songs turned into real bombast of cacophonic noise, like a hard and difficult labor giving birth to chaos.

They sure knew how to insert gravitas in music with haunting songs, cold and intriguing at the same time,… it was dark music played in the dark, welcoming a lugubrious violin for a few tracks, and at this point they could have announced my death sentence. Beside a slightly upbeat guitar strumming here and there, we could not escape the heaviness wrapping their music. No owner they had included dead in their moniker, death seemed to float around or at least a great deal of sadness and desolation and I was imagining a deserted black land all set long

After a couple of EPs, ‘Antique’, then ‘Cast of Lines’, released on Savages’ Jehnny Beth’s Pop Noire label, the duo has released a 13-track album, ‘In All That Drifts From Summit Down’, described as imagining ‘natural phenomena as poetic metaphor for the human condition’. It was the opposite of an uplift and for this reason, the perfect opening for Chelsea Wolfe’s iciness, and because of the unclassifiable nature of their music, they may well represent a new direction of the indie music.