Band talks new directions in metal, growing Ottawa music scene

Ottawa isn’t well-known for its music scene, which is what makes the rise of The Dead Centuries intriguing. After an explosive launch in 2015, the group is set to propel the local scene forward by bringing something unique to the table. Made up of University of Ottawa alumni, the band’s first album is fun, daring, and an overall enjoyable listening experience.

Titled Race Against Time, the instrumental metal album combines the sound of classic metal with high energy beats to create a sound that is both timeless and futuristic. The album captures the best parts of a retro video game fight soundtrack and supports them with the rich, complex backing that defined early metal.

U of O alum Bryant McNamara is the band’s drummer and has been playing in The Dead Centuries since 2011. Originally classmates in the U of O’s department of communications, the trio formed the core of what would eventually become The Dead Centuries.

“So, at that point, we were really a rock group—pretty soft with a lot of vocals. But we all had this interest in metal. So from 2011 to 2015, our music just progressively got heavier and heavier until we ended up parting ways with our vocalist and pulled in a new guitarist,” McNamara said. “So at that point, our interests had really coalesced and we decided we might as well just go for it and give instrumental metal a shot.”

Inspired by a slew of 1980s metal and classic jazz, the group took a risk and decided to scrap vocals altogether for a free-form experimental experience.

“It’s catchy, it’s extremely upbeat, but it’s definitely got some heavier moments to it. Those looking for the heavier aspect will find it there for sure, but really it’s musicians’ music,” McNamara said.

Race Against Time couldn’t be described better. Each track manages to be shockingly unique, and all of them blur the lines between traditional music genres. Rhythm and riffs combine to create a sense of excitement and mystery that is not often seen in metal. Its retro-futuristic tones conjure up images of flying cars, neon lights, soaring skyscrapers, and noire detectives—it wouldn’t sound out of place backing an 80s cyberpunk movie.

The Dead Centuries bring a jolt of life to Ottawa’s arts and culture community. Joining fellow local acts like Arms of the Girl and The 13th Floor, Bryant sees a lot of potential in a movement that has been driven forward by a dedicated collective of individuals. Their album launch is an inspiration to musicians to take a chance and set themselves apart with something truly unique.

The band is poised to launch their debut instrumental metal album, Race Against Time, Jan. 26 with a launch event at Live! On Elgin.