It’s no exaggeration when I say that Dodsferd have a prolific discography that stretches about as long as long gets. Running back as far as 2003, the Greek black metallers have created a respectable following with their early demos, more full-lengths than I can count on one hand, live albums, EP’s, splits and compilations. My invitation to the Dodsferd party came in the form of 2013’s bastard child – The Parasitic Survival of the Human Race. The combination of Wrath’s (Nadiwrath, Kampf, Grab and ex-Drunk Earth (now called NunOnBong!)) abrasive Skitliv vociferations and the voracious Vreid or Taake-like black n roll got me hooked. I worked my way backwards, adding to my Dodsferd library, appreciating Death Set the Beginning of my Journey for its animalistic vocals, DIY feel and shifting unhinged tempos. Fucking Your Creation followed with its spiteful and edgy atmosphere, then Desecrating the Spirit of Life hinting at Carpathian Forest and the depravity you’d get if you dared The Misfits to create a black metal release. The final leg of my journey came in the form of Stormblast with its Illnath-like vocals and its immersive melodic traditional sound. Wastes of Life hit me at my most unprepared. Billed as “unapologetically defiant and shockingly melodic” including a statement from Wrath to the effect of “My new album is one of my most soul-destroying albums. It was written under feelings of frustration and disgust.” my expectations were high.
As the opening strains of “Wastes of Life” work their way into earshot you’ll become aware that there’s something very very different about this album. True to Wrath’s word, Wastes of Life sees Dodsferd undergoing a transformation into austere, epic black metal depression, laced with barely contained violence. And it works. The song is built around a delicate, shifting, repetitive melody that quickly commits to memory. It’s when Wrath’s vocals kick in through that you’re in for the biggest shock, playing out as a monologue they have the same impact as Old Dead Tree‘s “The Bathroom Monologue.” The track moves along more quickly than you’d expect, sometimes bringing to mind the pickings of Shining (Swedish), at others the melancholy of So Much For Nothing or the godforsakenness of Eudaimony and finally winding up the changes with the hopelessness of Skitliv.
“Sterile Death, Without Mourning” makes another about turn with guitar work that could easily be confused with Eric Clapton before Wrath again picks up the reigns with his gut wrenching voice. And then finally you’re given a brief taste of the Dodsferd you know and love. This is an album of where the only consistency is change. As you’re getting used to Dodsferd delivering their brand of black metal, they switch the tempo and the melody, the strings seem to weep with sadness, there’s no escaping it. Nothing’s overdone, the song is lengthy at over 12 minutes, but it’s perfectly constructed to wrap you up in its seeming endless tearful journey.
“The Dead Have No Speech For,” “To the Fall of Man” and “Graves of Your Creator” follow on from their predecessors, adopting the same mix of uncharacteristic delicacy while bringing to mind the likes of Ulver or Agalloch. This is contrasted by the seething, venomous black metal one expects from Dodsferd neatly bound by the depression of Eudaimony and or Forgotten Tomb. Guitar solos are big, bold and impressive. Vocals change between misanthropic screams, monologues, rasps, pleading whispers and robotic rantings. Vocal theatrics of the Kvarforth variety are introduced from time to time but they’re used sparingly and positioned well.
If I were to nit pick and hunt for faults on this album, I’m sure I could list a few. The incomplete or meaningless song titles being one, the song lengths too (I’m pretty sure the longer tracks could be tightened up a little and the fat trimmed). But I don’t want to pick nits anyway. Despite Wastes of Life being built mostly around tracks that exceed the 11-minute mark, the album only consists of five songs, thus making it very listenable. Each track is dynamic, well crafted, interesting and more importantly, memorable and believable. When Wrath says “Remember that no one gives a shit about you, because you are nothing, nothing but wastes, wastes of life!” he means it and that comes across. Wastes of Life has more than exceeded my expectations. If this is Dodsferd‘s new direction, I’m a believer!