Dordeduh – Har Review

Until a few months ago I was only peripherally aware of Dordeduh. I had heard their debut album, 2012’s Dar de duh, and thought it was “good” but not really worth revisiting. Similarly, I was aware of the apparent amazingness of Om, Negură Bunget’s 2006 opus, in which Edmond “Huppogrammos” Karban and Cristian “Sol Faur” Popescu played a pivotal role. While that album was stunning in scope, the black metal production values turned me off. Potential, yes: essential, no. Fast forward to 2021, and on a whim I clicked on the first track released from Har, entitled “Descânt.” It was then that I knew I had to not only hear this album, but bring it forth to the Angry Metal Guy faithful. Still heavily influenced by their days leading Negură Bunget, and to some degree by Enslaved’s material, Huppogrammos, Sol Faur,1 and others have set out to craft the definitive Romanian album — black metal, prog, electronic, folk, all mashed together to create one brilliant statement. Am I setting you up for a letdown? Hell no.

Twelve-minute opener “Timpul întâilor” is amazing, and starts Har off perfectly. The ominous opening serves as a clarion call, with what I assume to be a tulnic resonating deeply amidst other Romanian instruments. The buildup is impeccable. Two minutes in a killer riff drops and we are off to the races. Huppogrammos’ cleans are our first vocals in this song, and they give it a very solemn, ritualistic feel, offset by the powerful harsh vocals when used. Both vocal styles are highly effective, although there are sure to be some “clean vocal” detractors out there. The ebbs and flows of this song are tremendous — a case study in arrangement, and a wonderful encapsulation of the entire album.

Aside from the mid-album interlude “Calea magilor,” Dordeduh focus on lengthier dramatic, tension-filled arrangements. In fact, the entire album plays as if it’s one cinematic tour de force. “De neam vergur” is another long, epic masterpiece. Waves of synthesizer swirl from side to side as ethnic instruments pluck in the center of the mix. Two minutes in an earworm of a groove starts that one wishes would never stop. But it does after a couple of minutes, going into an eloquently understated melody. Additional epic, climactic movements come and go before the song closes in fury and leads into the denouement, a reprise of the opening theme. And if it’s movie-score-core you’re after, look no further than the brilliant final few minutes of “Vraci de nord,” which could have come straight out of any epic fantasy flick.

Om’s DNA is all over Har, from the sweeping, epic scope of the arrangements, to the instrumentation and infusion of folk elements. But the rawness of Om has been discarded in favor of the sheen of modern-era production, and it suits the material, especially the drum kit. The folk music is de-emphasized here, added in as a mostly subtle yet highly effective augmentation. The band self-produced this album, but turned to Jens Bogren for mixing and mastering. The mix is stellar, but of course an overall more explosive and dynamic master would have been amazing. Sol Faur’s guitars have a jagged, cutting edge to them, Andrei Jumugă’s drums are powerfully played and wonderfully placed in the soundfield, and Flavius Misarăș’ bass thrums and rumbles beneath the layers of instrumentation without getting lost. This album has been painstakingly constructed and it pays off in spades.

Only two drawbacks exist on Har: first, the synth patch used in places sounds cheap and, well, synthetic. More genuine strings were needed. And second, while the band said they would provide an English translation to their lyrics, at the time of writing only the lyric video linked below for “Descânt” has a translation. I’m dying to understand what is being sung about, and can only hope the lyrical themes match the music.

Har is an album that rewards patience. At more than an hour, and with several songs eclipsing the ten-minute mark, it’s not for the faint of heart, but if one has time to listen to it all in one go, I daresay it’s as close to a transcendent experience as one can have. Dordeduh’s music defies genres, incorporating them all seamlessly. The inclusion of Romanian instruments, and singing the album in Romanian, only serve to heighten the experience. I’ve been peddling my wares at Angry Metal Guy for almost five years, and this is only the third 4.5 I have handed out; take it seriously.2

Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Prophecy Productions
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: May 14th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. What does a guy have to do to get cool nicknames like that, and have people actually use them?
  2. Look it up: Huck didn’t start giving out 4.5s until I was on staff here. Coincidence? I don’t think so. – Holdeneye
« »