Dead Surf Kiss: ‘90s Alt.-Metal That You Won’t Find on Spotify, Volume IV

I recently picked up Narcotic Nevada—the lone 1991 full-length from Vancouver, Canada's Dead Surf Kiss—without hearing a single note. Having spotted it while perusing items for sale on Discogs, the release seemed interesting in a way that just gave me that feeling that, "Yeah, I think this one might be something special." So, at the bargain price of a mere $1.50, I decided to roll the dice without doing any research.

I was not mistaken. In fact, Narcotic Nevada is even better than I anticipated!

If the internet is to be believed, Dead Surf Kiss apparently derived their band name from the members' shared appreciation for The Grateful Dead, surf music, and Kiss. Kinda wacky. But, after all, this is kind of a wacky disc. If the name's origins are true, however, be not misled to believe that the music draws from the same inspirations. Instead, this is experimental "weirdo metal" that—surprisingly—leans toward thrash. Sources claim that the band's original bio self-described their style as "a twisted embryo of melody and metal delivered through a shotgun blast of demented time signatures and intangible rhetoric. Landscapes of paranoid rhythms confront a mutated symbiosis of Brian Wilson and Godzilla unleashing the darker side of prose and poetry."

A damn fine synopsis. I myself would dumb that down to: imagine Mind Over Four meets Coroner, with a dash of Faith No More.

Co-produced by Dave "Rave" Ogilvie from Skinny Puppy, the album was issued through the seemingly short-lived Onslot Music imprint, which was distributed by BMG in the U.S. The internet also claims that Dead Surf Kiss opened for Tool during a portion of the North American tour for Undertow, though I can't really find much to back that up. If accurate, I believe that would've been the revised lineup—operating as simply DSK—that eventually released a second, very different album called Exploder! in 1996. (Which is actually pretty good, though unfortunately it totally lacks the intriguingly appealing visual aesthetic of the debut. I'm not sure what they were thinkin' on that one.)

I love discovering obscure oddities like this, and Dead Surf Kiss has been the most compelling such find in quite some time. Some kind soul has uploaded Narcotic Nevada to YouTube, but if you'd like to get your hands on something tangible, there are still some super cheap copies on Discogs—CD or cassette.

Streaming sucks: spend a few bucks!