Thursday, February 16, 2017

Album Review: Dool - Here Now, There Then

When bands are composed of members who were in other bands, the story is often told strictly through the terms of those former bands. But what does that mean for those of us who never listened to the prior groups? In the case of Dool, it means I hadn't the foggiest idea what to think going into this record. The main attraction here are two former members of The Devil's Blood, a band whose name I had heard, but whom I never listened to. In that sense, I can't say that I have any prior affinity for Dool, nor any reason to unfairly compare them to a different group. Despite history, I am flying blind.

The album gets off to what can generously be called a deliberate start. Nearly two minutes of slow guitars pick soft sequences of notes, delaying the true start to the music. When it does get going, "Vantablack" stretches out for ten minutes, and shows us the kind of dark rock that Dool is going to be playing. The song is slow, with a few simple riffs to underscore the far-away vocals. The mix puts them back far enough that they can be difficult to hear, which could be a decision to give the album a Gothic atmosphere, but I feel that it dulls the song's ability to grab the listener.

The pace picks up a bit on "Golden Serpents", and with the added bounce comes a sound that is far more appealing. The ability to combine a darker aesthetic with a happier tempo is one of the things that this kind of music needs to do if it wants to make an impact, and there are times when Dool does that. The chorus in the aforementioned song has a lively cadence, and the guitar freakout that comes right after has a spirit of 70s adventurism to it. That kind of song is something that is hugely appealing when done well.

There is a comparison for this album I can make. It reminds me a good deal of Year Of The Goat's "The Unspeakable", which was one of my favorite albums from a couple years back. Like that album, this is vintage occult-tinged rock that tries to balance atmosphere with hooky songwriting. And for the most part, Dool is able to do that pretty well. It's not quite as relentlessly catchy as "The Unspeakable" was, and the opening ten minutes add nothing, but the majority of the album is a fun mix of darkness and hooks.

Another way to think about Dool is what if Ghost was less blatantly (satirically) Satanic, and wrote music to be played in smokey clubs instead of big arenas. That's essentially what Dool is doing here. When the take the right cues, they are capable of making music that is thoroughly enjoyable. The problem is that, being a new band, they haven't figured out the right balance yet. There are a couple songs that are heavily doom, and they are plodding and uninteresting. Towards the back of the album there are also longer instrumental passages, which suck some of the life out of the songs.

Dool is showing plenty of potential here, and there are four or five really good tracks. There's hope for them to focus their sound and make something great next time out, but this record is a bit short of the high bar the comparisons have set for it. It's solid, but it's a work in progress.

No comments:

Post a Comment