Thursday, 8 October 2009

Dolorian - When All The Laughter Has Gone. 84/100.

It came as a shock to me when I noticed that Dolorian hadn’t had much coverage on the Archives. Even this stirring debut effort, entitled ‘When All The Laughter Has Gone’, has received only a small amount of the attention that bands like fellow American act Evoken have amassed in recent times. I have a tendency to relate both bands, as I discovered them both around the same time and, whilst appreciating the fact that they don’t exclusively play a similar style, the bands do remind me of each other in small, significant ways with their repressed spirit. Both bands have been on the Archives for almost the same amount of time, roughly seven years, so I was expecting, due to the large fan base the respective bands have, that they would also have a considerable amount of reviews and reviewers willing to tackle the doom and gloom of the hybrids these bands work within. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in regards to Dolorian, who have been unashamedly overlooked by unobservant gentlemen like myself. I have a tendency to steer clear of bands with mighty reputations as it can be intimidating when forming a review around the climatic structures that bands like Dolorian work towards.

Generally, if it raved about by the masses, I will keep clear of it until the heat dies down and that has certainly happened in regards to Dolorian, who are struggling to draw in the reviewers. Partially, I think the trouble with bands like Dolorian is the simple fact that their music is more abstract than anything and thus, it is difficult to describe without sounding like a metaphor whore, or someone who struggles to form their opinions in a coherent manner. The band rely heavily on simplistic techniques to draw out complex atmospherics that not only make up for the slightly repetitive and simplistic nature, but actually amass a certain amount of credit due to the fact that the band can cause such a stir of emotions within the listener despite being overly cautious when it comes to experimenting with the instrumentation. There is no doubt however, that Dolorian do experiment when it comes to the atmosphere. The band raise a funerary sound from shallow graves of the dead, rising up and out of the ashes of the cremation like a phoenix in full flight, the funerary sound dominates the structure of all the Dolorian songs.

Take ‘Collapsed’, for example. This song relies almost entirely on a repetitive and slow haunting bass formation and light keyboards, which sound almost like wind chimes on occasions, to subtly tip-toe around the harsh elements of the sound - which includes the guitars and, most notably, the black metal inspired vocals, which are watered down rasps, in a slower fashion, to meet the standards of the instrumentation which is, obviously, slowed down for the doom lovers to appreciate in context. So, although the band aren’t exclusively a funeral doom band, I do hear elements that reminds me of Evoken - who truly are overrated. Out of all the black/doom hybrid bands, Dolorian sit in the mind for a long time after having heard their music. Particularly ‘When All The Laughter Has Gone’ with its mesmerising waves of melancholy that comes in an abundance from beginning to the tragic end. As expected, to maintain the attention levels, Dolorian do occasionally wander out of their safety zones, particularly on songs like ‘Fields’, which uses a fantastic combinational style with the hollow bass and the acoustics mixing together to cause a steady flow of emotions beneath the crumbling surface where the vocals are doing their best to tear down the walls of insecurity in the listener and release their true feelings unto the world, in full force.

Being the abstract entity that they are, Dolorian are difficult to describe without delving into metaphors and comparisons to abstract themes of life where things go beyond things in a bid to show the struggling soul, who is finding life all too much to handle, that there is some small release to be had in areas of life like this. Dolorian’s haunting music isn’t so much a pressing piece which doesn’t allow for a moments breath, but instead, its soothing and rather soulful with its high quantities of unreal bass, which acts like an apparition, weaving it and out of the current world and the afterlife. This surrealist record works well in context as the lyrical themes suggest the songs are all about the depression that we can sometimes face in life, when we’re forced to deal with issues like personal grief and loss. The lyrical themes work particularly well in relation to the spiritual factor as much of the instrumentation, particularly the vibrating bass which reverbs in and around out beating hearts, filled with misery, which rumbles constantly and consistently, is other worldly.

There is an aquatic sense felt within the instrumentation, though I suppose the idea of a surreal world and an aquatic world go hand-in-hand since the creatures of the depths can seem alien like on occasions. The world, on land, is ours, but in the seas, it is dominated by creatures we cannot begin to compete with without our man-made weapons of destruction. Equipped and ready to punctuate the domination of the creatures of this world unknown, Dolorian express a deeply spiritual, oceanic world in the bass, dreary guitars and the funerary keyboards that dominate over the percussion and vocals, which were a surprise to me when I first encountered them. Much more inspired than bands like Evoken, who can tend to overextend their capabilities by playing overly long songs that can irk me after a short amount of time. Thankfully, Dolorian have kept their songs down to a reasonable length and do not annoy with tedious repetitious that seems to last forever. Dark and claustrophobic, ‘When All The Laughter Has Gone’ is a monument to depression, melancholy and misery. Highlight is ‘My Weary Eyes’.

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