Eclectic is the name of the game when it comes to Dot Legacy. The French quartet has been around for seven years, playing a unique brand of fuzzed-out energy rock. How’s that for a genre? To be honest, Dot Legacy’s second offering, To the Others, kind of defies genre categorization. It’s a mish-mash of everything, and that was the intent going in. The band wanted to have complete freedom of creative expression here, and boy did they ever, messing with everything from genres to arrangements to instrumentation. The question is, does this unleashed creativity work, or does it leave the listener bamboozled?
If you’re utterly confused after spinning through opening track “Horizon,” you won’t be alone. Hell, I don’t think the band even knows what they were up to there. Here’s how it goes: it starts off in much the same fashion as the most recent Blues Pills release, a simple octave-based bass line. Blown-out vocals come in with a definite bluesy feel. Super cool start, even when the rest of the band joins in. So far, this could almost be pulled off of Led Zeppelin III. And when the band crashes to a fuzz-drenched halt a minute and a half in, you feel like something epic is about to happen – until singer/bass player Damien Quintard decides to channel his inner Beastie Boys and the song turns into a rap, of all things. That sound you hear is a great song face-planting on the sidewalk. “Horizon” does get up and struggles to the finish line, but the rap leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth.
On the plus side, this isn’t a rap album. On the down-side, Quintard tries it again in the even more chaotic “5314,” and again it fails, but at least this time it fails surrounded by frenetic choruses, odd reggae verses, and the shouts of “Super-cala-fraga-listic.” In other words, there’s so much weirdness going on in this song the rapping doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. The rapping is by far the worst aspect of To the Others and shows that maybe Dot Legacy should have reined in the creativity just a touch, because when they do they really shine. Cases in point: every other aspect of “Horizon,” which is a great song. “Dakota” begins as a plodding march with pretty much everything drenched in a fuzzy haze, and builds to the album’s best solo and a quirky but catchy “Da-Ko-Ta!” chorus. “Story of Fame” is a weird song I wasn’t sold on at first, but after a couple of listens the damned thing wormed its way into my head. Every song is just odd enough to make you perk up your ears, but not odd enough to make you turn away. In my books, that’s a good thing.
Production suites the fuzzed-out eclectic stoner nature of To the Others, despite the surprising DR4 rating. I ran the album through my fancy schmancy system a few times to confirm, but yes it’s a DR4. You can’t tell, though, with the alternate sparse and wall-of-fuzz instrumentation all coming through in grandiose fashion. Check out “Grey Cardinal.” A slow-burning blues number to start with, the music sounds warm and intimate, the vocals break up as though Quintard was singing through a shredded mic, and the massive fuzz-bombs tear through the speakers crisply. The songs never sound like they’ve been mashed to death in the mastering room. And talent-wise, while Dot Legacy aren’t going to win any awards, these guys know their stuff and play tight and tastefully throughout, as shown on short instrumental “The Twelve.”
If you feel the need to stretch your metal wings a bit and feel the creative breeze, there’s more to like than not on To the Others. Awkward rapping aside, this is a talented band that writes some snappy material. A few of the songs carry on a bit longer than necessary, but there’s rarely a dull moment. Repeated listens will draw out more nuggets of goodness, and the eclectic fuzzy blues feel keeps Dot Legacy from straying too far into odd territory. This is an album that grew on me over the past few weeks: the first quick listen sounded more like a 2.5, but digging into it revealed much more.