Here we are, one month away from the end of the year, and like all previous years, we are bombarded with metal’s best riches. With List Season just a few weeks away,1 it’s easy for bands to get overlooked and lost in the shuffle with all the high-profile bands getting all the spotlight. For example, (DOLCH)2 are a mysterious duo from Germany who are known for their anonymity and their ability to blend DSBM with Gothic rock, and are often compared to Dead Can Dance. So, if you want some DSBM to go with your BDSM, have at it.3 And now, they’ve dropped their full-length debut, Feuer, upon the masses.
Opener “Burn” is easily the standout track of the album, with simplistic but powerful drumming, borderline atonal and droning guitar melodies cascading over driving riffs, and serene and beautiful vocals by… whoever is the woman singing on this album.4 In many ways, “Burn” reminded me of the maligned-and-misunderstood One Second era of Paradise Lost‘s discography, having barely any traces of metal except to remind you that yes, there were (and now once again are) a metal band, yet have no problems showing off new influences if the songs are good. “Burn” is an amazing example of the potential that (DOLCH) could exhibit from this point forward.
It’s just a shame that the rest of the album doesn’t hold up anywhere near the same level as “Burn.” The biggest problem lies in the fact that the majority of the songs on Feuer could pass as okay 2-3 minute songs, and not six, seven, or even almost ten minute tunes. “Halo (Afraid of the Sun)” beats an interesting vocal melody and riff into and through the ground. “A Funeral Song,” in all of its near-eight minutes, crushes under its sheer weight and lack of variance in hook or melody. The closing title track drags due to its disinterested vocal duet with the male vocalist, riffs that don’t hold anyone’s attention, and a long-overdue fake-out ending, where it becomes a full-fledged lo-fi DSBM tune and the female vocalist’s voice sits on top of some badly produced riffs and drums.
But the biggest point of artistic free-fall comes in Feuer‘s actual midpoint, “A Love Song.” I hope you like the phrase “I’m glad we are not what you want us to be,” as that phrase is looped ad nauseam over what’s supposed to be sultry, sleek, and “cool” bass-lines, riffs, and drums. Instead, it reminded me of an ever-so-slightly better goth version of Shitty Person. Everything after that becomes an absolute slog to get through, and because of that, even the sheen of “Burn” ends up becoming dull after several spins. When you take a great idea, and instead of crafting a song around it, you end up milking that idea to the point where it’s dry-heaving and anemic, it’s no longer potent or powerful. You end up diluting your intent, and your music will suffer for it greatly.
Sometimes repetition can work. One of my all-time favorite hooks is that repeating six-note finger-tap melody that carries My Dying Bride‘s amazing “The Cry of Mankind” from start to anguishing finish. The key there is you have to build something around that idea, and (DOLCH) don’t have that science down pat on Feuer. “Burn,” however, might be the catalyst for something great, but they need to work on their songwriting skills considerably. Maybe next time.