A Gradual Decline in Morale – Kim Dracula Album Review

Written by on December 29, 2023

Kim Dracula said it first, and I’ll back them up – “This may end up being one of your favorite albums of all time.”

Review by Emily “Emol” McCormack – 

As music director, I would say it’s safe to say that I consume a lot (a lot) of music… despite living in an age where all music, past and present, is available at my fingertips, in June I somehow found myself in a strange rut of listening to the same few songs over and over again. The kind of music that I never thought I would get bored of grew stale… I was starving for something new. Perhaps a new artist, a new album, a new genre – anything of the sort would help. Kim Dracula heard my plea, and served up one of the most fantastic and innovative albums I have ever laid my ears upon.

Released in July 2023, Dracula’s debut album A Gradual Decline in Morale is just the thing my alternative-metal-indie-screaming-music-loving vibe required. This project immediately brings the listener to Dracula’s castle with an eerie cinematic opening in the title track. You are now on board for a scary ride through a haunted house… next thing you know, you’re hit with Red Hot Chili Peppers in the first minute or so of “My Confession,” before moving on to a fun, hip-pop playing nightclub. Then, there’s screaming, public service announcements, trap metal, industrial- you name it. Their work has everything. Keep in mind- this is only about the first two tracks. The remainder of the album follows suit, as it’s an experimental combination of many genres near and far – and I’m living for every second of it. 

Keep in mind- this is only about the first two tracks. The remainder of the album follows suit, as in its entirety it’s an experimental combination of many genres near and far – and I’m living for every second of it. 

The first song I heard was one of the pre-release singles “Make Me Famous.” This track is the epitome of what A Gradual Decline in Morale is… it explores a social commentary on gun control, the negligence and corruption of leaders, and giving a platform or making household names of those who do dangerous things – all in a twisted, genre-bending style. As Dracula puts it, it’s quite simply “enough to make you think.”

“Industry Secrets” is a standout track for its cruel honesty when it comes to who gets celebrity status nowadays. It’s hard for genuine artists to make their way to the top when our society’s perception of what a celebrity should be is so warped; It almost makes it like you have to be a terrible person to be famous. In our modern age, those who share mindless behavior or share quick content are those who get fame instead of people who spend time on their craft. The entertainment industry is a game of attrition (as Dracula explains in very different, very non-FCC safe terms), which sets artists up for failure at the foundation of their career. 

Did I mention that this is a story based album? There are a handful of musical interludes that provide some insight into Kim Dracula as a personality throughout this project, which is an added element that I believe only enhances the listening experience. These aren’t just songs, they are pieces of a story that build up who this “character” is. 

This section here is to really appreciate the musical transition between “Superhero” and “Are You?” (and, honestly, through “Land Of The Sun”). I rarely listen to albums I know well in order (I just kind of let YouTube do its thing and shuffle whatever it recommends for the day), but this little moment of going from one song into the next encourages me to calm down with the shuffle button for a moment. 

Now: where should you start? If you want to really be swept off your feet, the single “Make Me Famous” is the heart of this album (or, arguably, “Drown” is as well). When I’m looking for a good scream (aka, the tracks I play at full volume to get out my frustrations of having a bad day), I immediately run to “Reunion And Reintegration” and “Divine Retribution.” Some of the more tame, less-genre-bending tracks include “Kitty Kitty,” “Are You?,” dark-ballad “Rosé” (save for the conclusion), or their cover of the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” (the only clean track on this album). Songs like “Superhero,” “Land Of The Sun,” “Luck Is A Fine Thing (Give It A Chance)” and “Undercover” will certainly keep you on your toes. Alternatively, you can enjoy this album head-on with a complete listen-through- and this, of course, would be the way I highly recommend it.

By the way- in case you’re convinced you’ve never heard of Kim Dracula, you may know them from a number of popular audio clips on TikTok – seriously, if you are a social media user convinced you have never once heard them, I highly doubt that’s true. I remember scrolling through Instagram reels hearing a remix of Paramore’s “All I Wanted” paired with someone screaming. I kept hoping I would one day find a full version of the screaming part… come to find out it is in fact Kim Dracula’s “Seventy Thorns” (featuring Jonathan Davis of Korn).

Thank you to Kim Dracula for making my favorite album of 2023 such an obvious and easy pick this time around. I am looking forward to all they have in store for 2024 (crossing my fingers for a tour in my area)! 

Highlighted Tracks: “Make Me Famous,” “Undercover,” “Land Of The Sun.”

A Gradual Decline In Morale is featured in WMSC Music Picks: Favorites of 2023! You can check out the full article here.

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