Dormant Ordeal – The Grand Scheme of Things Review

Five years ago, Dr. Wvrm highlighted Poland’s Dormant Ordeal’s We Had It Coming as a Thing You Might Have Missed. While Wvrm was overwhelmingly positive, he noted that the band had room and serious potential for more exploration. Often third albums make or break bands, as they either transcend their influences in a burst of self-actualization or recede into the unforgiving metal landscape. Fortunately, the band seems to have used the five years crafting their follow-up wisely. On their third full-length release and first for Selfmadegod, Dormant Ordeal pushes the boundaries of its tech-death formula with more of everything: more melody, more groove, and yet more furious riffs. Channeling bits of Decapitated, mid-era Enslaved, and Ulcerate, the members of Dormant Ordeal create something new in The Grand of Scheme Things that sways and thrashes in equal measure.

Dormant Ordeal plays a brand of tech-death heavily inspired by their Polish forebears but with an eye firmly on the broader extreme metal scene. Whereas their countrymen’s influences were more present on debut It Rains, It Pours and follow-up We Had It Coming, here we see the band drawing on broader, groovier influences without watering down their core aggression. Founder Radek Kowal’s remains a thunderous force behind the kit, while guitarist Maciej Nieścioruk continues to deploy tendon-snapping riffs throughout. But the band also brings an altogether new sense of groove that sees Nieścioruk employing dissonant chords of the Ulcerate variety while also mixing in clean harmonics on tracks like “Letters to Mr. Smith.” Elsewhere, he brings a sense of Mastodon’s groove to the intro of “Sides of Defence,” while the opening riff on “Let the Light In” bears Axioma Ethica Odini-era Enslaved vibes. Kowal similarly makes otherwise brutal songs sway (“Bright Constellations”).

The new experimentation on The Grand Scheme of Things works because the trio have matured as songwriters and arrangers. Here each member knows when less is more and when to push the million note-per-second envelope. While Dormant Ordeal started as a solo project for Kowal, The Grand Scheme of Things is clearly the production of a band in lockstep. Despite how busy the song compositions are, the performers never compete for space. Kowal often threatens to overwhelm a solo or clean guitar section, but restrains himself just enough that the tension of teetering over the brink into a complete cacophonous mess serves the songs (“The Borders of Our Language Are Not the Borders of Our World”).  Nieścioruk creatively inverts a standard guitarist’s approach to composition throughout the album. Rather than playing comparatively simply throughout riffs and shredding through solos, Nieścioruk often saves his most technical playing for intro and verse riffs, while simplifying his playing for solos (“Poetry Doesn’t Work on Whores” and “Letters to Mr. Smith”). This approach lifts entire songs to another level by letting bridges and solos breathe in a way that other tech-death bands often miss. The band’s newfound restraint carries over to Maciej Proficz’s performance on the album. This culminates on highlight “Poetry Doesn’t Work on Whores” where he uses his standard growl but also a whisper in the bridge before launching into a savage bark that punches you right in the mouth.

If there’s one knock on The Grand Scheme of Things, it is the production. Having a consistent DR6 score throughout is a damn shame, since it means that the more melodic moments don’t pop as much as they should. This is also a problem for the more tech-death elements, where riffs should puncture eardrums through their intensity, not their production. While repeat listens should always reward the attentive listener by uncovering little details, they shouldn’t be necessary to pick out core parts. The production ends up being a three-fold issue because the band designed the first four tracks to neatly flow into one another, but the loud production job makes for an exhausting experience on first listen.

Dormant Ordeal has evolved significantly with The Grand Scheme of Things. While the album demands your attention throughout and requires multiple listens to uncover the rich layers of the band’s songwriting, it clocks in at just over 39 minutes, meaning you’ll have lots of time to spin this blistering set again and again. With the loud production, it just might not be back to back.

Editor’s Addendum: This was originally intended to run as a double review along with Doc Wvrm‘s, but through no fault of Nameless N00b_71‘s, we had to break them up. Now you get a second take on a notable album, so be grateful, you filthy ingrates!

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Selfmadegod Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: December 3rd, 2021

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