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Dogbane - Neptune’s Ballroom Award winner

Dogbane
Neptune’s Ballroom
by Mike McMahan at 14 December 2020, 10:12 PM

I have to admit, going into this review, I knew absolutely nothing about the band DOGBANE. I’m a little disappointed by this, as they hail from Greensboro, North Caroline, which is less than 300 miles away from my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. “Neptune’s Ballroom” is a four song EP, with the tracks recorded during the sessions for 2019’s “Idylls Of Woe”. It represents the last studio work to feature founding member and co-guitarist Mitch Allred. The band had two releases prior to “Idylls of Woe”: 2011’s “Residual Alcatraz” and 2015’s “When Karma Comes Calling”. The band describes themselves as “Traditional and New Wave of British Heavy Metal with a touch of Doom”.

Diving into the opening song on the EP, “Lost Colony”, I would say that is a pretty apt description. “Lost Colony” is the longest song on the release by almost two minutes, and covers the historical mysteries surrounding the lost colony of Roanoke Island. The song has a thundering, albeit somewhat simplistic, rhythm and an upper end vocal, not unlike something you may have heard from a young Rob Halford. Jeff Neal also brings Mike Howe (of METAL CHURCH fame) to my mind. The guitar work on the song is very good, complimented by some nice solo work. Checking in at a solid five and a half minutes, the song opens the album well.

Where “Man Of Clay” shines for me is in the musical delivery. The song is very solid from start to finish, musically speaking, with fantastic guitar work and rhythm section interaction. The lyrical content is a bit muddied, but the airy vocals from Neal are still firmly in place. The centerpiece track, and title cut, “Neptune’s Ballroom”, is a fantastic piece. Lyrically sound, written about the life folly of Whitaker Wright (a thank you to the band for the assist; it was greatly appreciated), and more musically solid than anything else on the release, I found myself wanting a little more from the track.

Where this release suffers is in the production. The mix sounds very muddy at times, often interfering with the vocal delivery and lyrical content therein. The musicians here are obviously very talented and have developed an interesting sound around them. I would be curious to hear these songs live, and will certainly be digging into some of the past catalog.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 6

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Lost Colony
2. Man Of Clay
3. Neptune’s Ballroom
4. Nothing
Lineup:
Kevin Davis - Bass
Jerry Cloer - Drums
Mitch Allred - Guitars
Jeff Neal - Vocals
Jeff Rinehart - Guitars
Record Label: Heaven and Hell Records
     


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