Review: Dear Mother – Bulletproof

This album is probably one of the most anticipated albums I’ve been looking forward to reviewing. It’s the first record of Dear Mother, which consists of members Merel Bechtold and Joey Marin de Boer with vocalist David Pear Hruska. A couple of years ago I met Merel at a meet and greet with one of the bands she plays in, Mayan. I was kind of surprised that she was there, because at the same time Delain was touring outside The Netherlands. I asked her if she wasn’t supposed to be with Delain at that moment and she said that she really wanted to do the Mayan show that evening. Thinking nothing of it, when I returned home after a great show, a strange and foreboding feeling kept coming back. Not long after that she told the world that she was leaving Delain. It might have had nothing to do with that gut feeling I had that night. But let me tell you, in my opinion, it was the best damn decision she could’ve ever made.

I followed Dear Mother very closely from that moment on. Listening to the many singles the band released over time, two things really take center stage. First of all, the sheer amount of energy that radiates from this band! It is a very hard thing to describe. Second of all, it is supported by a wide diversity of musical styles and a lot of creativity.

I have to be honest in saying that Dear Mother was initially not my cup of tea. But after listening to the singles more and more and now being able to listen to the whole album for this review, they really blew me away! Not only is Dear Mother’s new and unique signature sound immediately present and drenched through the whole album, which sounds unbelievably tight and strong, but there are so many little nuances in the music that it’s almost impossible to get bored while listening to it. Guitarist Merel shows, more than in her previous bands that she is an incredible versatile and steady guitarist, who not only knows how to carry a song, but also how to feel it. She is absolutely phenomenal! This we hear in the opening track Vertigo when she plays an incredible guitar solo that gives me goosebumps all over the place. The powerful drums of Joey form a steady base of every song together with session bass player Werner Erkelens. His drums never sound boring and there is always something new to discover. It makes every song feel fresh and dynamic.

But now it is time to talk about the vocals. Vocalist David made an impeccable impression on me upon first hearing his voice. The skill with which this man can switch between different vocal styles is an unbelievable attribute to this band. Whether it’s clean vocals, screams or everything in between, this man does it all and seemingly without effort. I immediately fell in love with his voice and to be perfectly honest, apart from the fact that I already knew Merel and Joey, the first one having been instrumental on me discovering this band, it was actually David’s voice that got me hooked and helped me bury the initial doubts I had when deciding whether this music was something I could get behind. David really managed to pull me out of my comfort zone. Apart from the fact that everything is technically very impressive, he also delivers the songs emotionally. Every time he sings, he gives everything and that gives every song an extra dimension. Those nuances I spoke of earlier are instrumental to getting every song across to me as a listener. Especially when you listen to songs like A Soul for Hire, Satellite or the ballad Palace. That last one appears quite surprisingly at the end of a strong track list but is certainly not one to be forgotten. Like I said earlier, I never got bored and Bulletproof feel so incredibly personal that it’s hard for me to single out a couple of songs. But I think A Soul for Hire holds a special place for me, together with the aforementioned Vertigo and Palace.

Besides personal, Bulletproof, despite its complexity is very accessible. This seems a challenge for many bands that make music where there is a lot going on. But Dear Mother absolutely nailed this. During the whole process of crowdfunding and making this album, the band often spoke of their friendship and commitment to wanting to make something that they can be proud of. Making something without restrictions and to be independent. Crowdfunding seems to be the perfect tool to help accomplish that. And let’s not forget that they accomplished all of this during a worldwide pandemic. That requires a lot of determination, enthusiasm and willpower.

If you ask me, Bulletproof is only the beginning of what this band really has to offer. I cannot wait to hear these powerful songs live. It goes absolutely without saying that leaving their established bands did them a whole lot of good and then some. It was a bold and brave choice, but perhaps I might as well go as far as to say it was the only right choice to make. Because let’s be honest, it would’ve been a shame if this album would’ve never been made!

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