Dirge – Lost Empyrean

Rating: 3.5/5
Distributor/label URL: https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/
Released: 2018
Buy Album: https://dmp666.bandcamp.com/album/lost-empyrean
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/DIRGE.fr/

Band line-up:

Marc T. – Guitars, Vocals, Programming
Stéphane L. – Guitars, Vocals, Programming
Alain B. – Drums
Luz – Bass

Tracklisting:

1. Wingless Multitudes
2. Hosea 8:7
3. Algid Troy
4. The Burden Of Almost
5. Lost Empyrean
6. A Sea Of Light
7. Sarracenia

Review:

Dirge are a doom metal band on the Debemur Morti Productions record label. Their latest and 7th album ‘Lost Empyrean’ will be released on 14 December, 2018. It took two and a half years to write and was mastered by Raphael Bovey (Wilhelmina, Schammasch, Zatokrev). It is about ‘the dual relationship between the primordial quintessence colliding with the earthly body and the illusory nature of providence upon the somber, meager trappings of existence’. The band are for fans of Baroness, Pelican and Isis.

As monotonous as this music may seem at first, on repeated listens, one appreciates how well this music develops. Not too quickly and not too slowly, and each instrumental part is a welcome breath of fresh air when it arrives. Other times, the listener has more complexity forced upon him much sooner, making him never sure quite what to expect. The guitar parts sometimes aren’t too much on the original side riff-wise, but additional guitar melodies on top of them that are eerie, melodic and well constructed more than make up for the mild lack of inventiveness. Despite the often rich and innovative harmony, don’t expect the super craziness of more avant-garde bands such as Dolorian or some Unholy. Rather admirably, that was merely a nitpick, if a criticism at all.

The way crushing, distorted power is sometimes contrasted with softer clean parts is another pro of the music, but more of the latter would likely be appreciated by many. Furthermore, the music on the whole doesn’t have the amount of variety it could have in mood, instrumentation and devices and if you’re looking for classic, memorable tunes in the style of Candlemass, you may be disappointed. Rather, Dirge are going for a more atmospheric sound that is more about creating a sense of journey and less about being catchy. For better or worse, the mostly growled singing in ‘Lost Empyrean’ is far less theatric and over the top than much of Candlemass’s music, again making it a little more on the ‘serious’ side.

In conclusion, this isn’t a bad effort at all but it’s a bit of a musical blur, as the songs lack distinctiveness. The whole album could almost be thought of as one very long piece of music in several different parts. Again, what more than saves the material however, is the harmony. It’s not exactly horrifying to listen to in contrast to some more atonal or dissonant stuff, but it is certainly very creepy. If you’re sick of hearing two note chords all the time and like to feel miserable, this music is most definitely for you. As doom metal goes, it is reasonably above average and is certainly worth checking out!

Review by Simon Wiedemann
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