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Dwaal - Gospel of the Vile Award winner

Dwaal
Gospel of the Vile
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 16 March 2020, 6:19 AM

DWAAL is a Norwegian band that combines Doom, Sludge, Atmospheric and Post into one huge and very fascinating sound.  These are not uncommon genres to be compiled together but there isn’t any band out right now that sounds like DWAAL.  "Gospel of the Vile," is the bands first full length but they also have released an EP plus a demo. I find this album to have a mysterious atmosphere that is wrapped up in a high degree of danger. Listening to this album is like approaching a corner in a dark, unfamiliar place….trepidation remains high but natural curiosity brings you closer despite all reservations.  There are very few bands that actually sort of freak me out and/or unnerve me.  DWAAL can be safely added to that short list alongside Naga, Tulus, and Portal.

The album's six tracks are made up of three longer songs dispersed among three "shorter" ones, none of which are under five minutes. This all adds up to a run time of an hour and four minutes. Normally, I would balk at such lengths but, with anything Doom related, such a long journey doesn't always mean a bad one. Fortunately, the songs have a very natural flow to them—none of them feel like their length and there is very little fluff. In essence, this album is so long simply because it needs to be. Anything less, would be a disservice—this is an album where I wanted to savor every moment, every little nook and cranny that passed by my ears.

The first track, "Ascent," does indeed feel like a rising action to reach a higher place. In a way, it almost feels like an intro because of the long build up and its eventual collisions into the later track. With that being said, it is a full song that is fully enjoyable taken as a piece meal moment. That next track is "Like Rats," a creepy dirge that is guaranteed to cast a shadow on even the brightest days. The vocals are intense—low but intelligible death growls and acidic blackened screams. The guitars are absolutely drenched in distortion and fuzz—whether actual riffs are presenting themselves or just a wall of heaviness, the guitars are very unrelenting—razor sharp but dense as a black hole.

The dark ambient portion around the six minute mark shows DWAAL isn't a band to allow a moments rest–even this clean portion is a potent as the rest of the song. “Obsidian Heart Burns,” is built around throbbing, pulsating bass and drums that compliment it every step of the way.  I love how the guitars and keys begin quiet, almost sneaking into the mix before the distortion kicks the song into another dimension.   The blackened vocals vomit forth among some of the album’s best riffs for a tone and feel that just engulfs everything.  The last five minutes or so of the songs are so heavy that I really can’t describe it—it is an experience that must be felt.  If you have a decent pair of headphones, these minutes will become a part of you and not let go until long after the song has ended.

The final track is the behemoth “Descent,” a sixteen and a half minute monstrous trip into the most fucked up rabbit hole you can imagine.  The build up is slow but the speed, for lack of rather, is crucial for ripping the nerves out of the listener, preparing the listener for the journey by getting them used to the alien and unknown.  Heavy, spacey, trippy, and just plain scary, this is a song that I doubt most people are ready for.  But for those of us who are gifted with an unstoppable love of all things Doom and Atmospheric, this just might be your swan song.

It is early in the year but DWAAL’s “Gospel of the Vile” is an absolute must listen for fans of Doom or just really graphic music that goes against the grain.

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

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Ascent
2. Like Rats
3. Gospel of the Vile
4. Obsidian Heart Burns
5. The Whispering One
6. Descent
Lineup:
Bjørnar Kristiansen - Vocals
Rikke Karlsen - Guitar
Eigil Dragvik - Guitar
Stian Hammer - Bass
Siri Vestby - Synth
Anders Johnsen - Drums
Record Label: Dark Essence Records
     


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