Release DetailsLABEL Electronic Art Metal Records
RELEASED ON 8/30/2006
posted on 2/2007 By:
This is a bizarre album. Really bizarre. We’re talking an Unexpect-level of weirdness here. Greek act Dol Ammad dub their unusual brand of music “electronic art metal” (also the name of their label), a remarkably fitting description that will surely turn away as many potential listeners as it draws in. Pity, because this one of the few really experimental metal acts I’ve heard that actually accomplishes its goals and more than deserves an audience.
This band seems determined to break just about every traditional rule of heavy metal that’s out there. Rather than a normal vocalist, an eleven-piece collective known as the “Europa Choir” is used instead. Heaviness? The majority of this album’s sound is comprised of electronics and synths as opposed to crushing riffs, or hell, any guitars at all. What about some awesome, crazy-technical guitar solos characteristic of progressive metal? Nope, none at all. In case you haven’t figured it out, this band is not for everyone. But for the three of you who are still reading this review with interest, know that Dol Ammad actually pull off their desired sound with an impressive degree of skill and professionalism on Ocean Dynamics, the band‘s second album. The question is, will any of you, the devoted Metal Review readers, actually care when what we have here is so far gone from the music you love? I certainly hope so, but the fact remains that I have a hard time finding much “metal” about this album at all.
I suppose at the root of the sound there are influences from classic prog-metal bands like Dream Theater or contemporary acts like Pagan’s Mind, and the drumming of the talented Alex Holzwarth (also of Rhapsody Of Fire) remains fairly traditional, as he keeps the beat utilizing relatively typical metal rhythm patterns. And while the guitars mostly remain in the background, there are times when they surpass the electronics to produce some catchy, heavy riffing that keeps things moving along effectively. But beyond those few precious remnants of safe familiarity, Dol Ammad pull no punches, delivering an absolute cacophony of layered synth melodies, electronic effects, loops and samples, and operatic choir vocals interspersed with dramatic spoken word narration to elaborate on the work‘s oceanic theme. It's all dense, very complex, and completely over the top. This could easily be the backing score for one of those I-Max movies about the mysteries that await mankind in deep space. But what’s amazing is that Dol Ammad keep everything reigned in well enough to produce some surprisingly compelling, catchy songs that offer a lot of depth to the listener open-minded enough to explore it.
Ocean Dynamics opens on an ambitious note with the four part suite “Thalassa Dominion”. This ends up being the most cohesive and entertaining part of the album, opening with an all-electronic intro piece before launching into the band’s unique sonic attack. While these first four songs are probably the more “normal” songs here, expect to hear a little bit of everything, from electronic drum looping to blast beats to passages of lush, relaxing electronica. The band keeps you guessing throughout the entire album, guaranteeing many an eyebrow raise on the first couple of listens, but it rarely seems cut-and-paste or contrived like many of their peers; everything seems to fit together very well. “Aquatic Majesty” stands as my favorite song on the album and a great example of the skill Dol Ammad possess at mixing dozens of completely different elements and still managing to come out with something that feels like a song, going from industrial riffing and sublime operatic vocals to a techno passage that could easily have come from an Aphex Twin album, before finishing with a magnificent crescendo of more epic vocals and heavy guitars. “Heart Of The Sea”, another instrumental, closes the album with a spacey, peaceful atmosphere that works perfectly as the final track.
Like the aforementioned Unexpect, Dol Ammad are a very talented band not afraid to write what they feel in their hearts and throw the rulebook out the window. While I can’t really see myself listening to this very often in the future, Ocean Dynamics has definitely made an impression on me and changed my perception on what can be accomplished within the confines of metal music. While conservative metalheads will pretty much hate everything about this, I urge those of you looking for something different to check this band out on the double. They have certainly earned your interest.
Register to post comments.