Dystopia A.D. – Doomsday Psalm [Things You Might Have Missed 2022]

Boy, did we miss this one. I reviewed Dystopia A.D.’s Rise of the Merciless back in 2020 and very nearly awarded the band a 4.0. I chanced upon that review doomscrolling through my writing history and was struck with curiosity whether anything else was in the pipeline. But no, the pipeline had already shat out a very fine self-produced album in early December, polished by the artwork of the ever-productive Adam Burke no less. I won’t describe in detail what the gorilla had me do to allow for a TYMHM this late in the year, but I can tell you I am running low on mouthwash.

The primary keyword to Dystopia A.D. is expansive. All the songs sound big and bombastic, and they switch up the pacing and even the genre constantly. “Force-fed Soma” sets a calm yet strident pace, but interrupts itself with bursts of blast-beat, hammering tremolos and piercing screams, before finishing off with an impromptu trumpet solo. The title track rolls out a straight Amon Amarth riff that veers into left field when atmospheric layered vocals and snippets of neoclassical scale-running drop in. Chris Whitby is the mastermind behind the band, handling everything besides lead guitar and a few guest spots. His approach to songwriting results in tracks that sound like miniature albums, traversing multiple moods and themes in the span of minutes, but returning to prior motifs often enough to not abandon cohesion entirely.

While there is a tremendous amount of variety and atmosphere on display, Doomsday Psalm is primarily a guitar-driven album. The lead remains the sole domain of Aki Shishido, who maps out numerous beautiful solos and a wealth of strong riffs in a rainbow of styles. And he saves the best for last. Penultimate track “As Skies Collapse” bursts from the gate with a battering Gothenburgian assault, and closer “Howl of Barghest” has an absolute ripper of a main riff, interspersed with tasteful noodly solos. Whitby supplies the vocals, and his range is impressive, utilizing deathcore-tinged growls and screeches as well as an excellent semi-clean chorus on the epic “Fields of Carrion.”1

Room for improvement does remain. A few passages need a little extra oomph, as they create the occasional lull in energy, most notably on opener “Imperial Dawn” where it’s in danger of tainting first impressions. The drum programming is done exceptionally well, but it never quite escapes sounding a bit more mechanical than a good live drummer. These are the most minor of qualms, however. Between the excellent guitars, solid vocals and adventurous, many-faceted songwriting, Whitby and Shishido have delivered an ambitious and impressive album that invites regular revisiting. There are precious few reasons any fan of progressive death metal should not be checking out Doomsday Psalm.

Tracks to Check Out: “Fields of Carrion,” “As Skies Collapse” and “Howl of Barghest.”

Show 1 footnote

  1. This track speaks of a viral plague that attacks the lungs, as well as quarantines. It’s also a re-record from Dystopia A.D.’s debut from 2018, so it gets a pass.
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