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Review: Dødsleie, Dødsleie (Subversive Craft, 2018)

Stealthily surfacing about a week ago, the eight-song, 36-minute debut from Dødsleie features in its ranks Rob Orr (Unreal City, ex-Integrity, etc.), Niklas Holm (Broken Cross, Extermination Temple, etc.), and Brent Bubash exploring precisely the style of black metal that I prefer. Neither too raw, nor overly polished—not only can you hear the bass, but it's an important and prominent component! Fast, but not to a fault—countered by just the right amount of crawling, atmospheric dissonance. Relatively tried-and-true, yet expressive—with an experimental edge to boot.

Said experimental side is immediately apparent with opener "Paranoid Form I"—the first of three such excursions—which sounds like a looped and wispily distorted segment of an orchestral horror score paired with low-end drones and distant, indecipherable vocals. "Dying in Bed" then eases in with an icier, slower-paced feel than much of what follows; utilizing some creative drumming and introducing vocals of a more strained, lower-midrange howl than is typical of most black metal—each of which helps differentiate the group's tack.

My favorite selection right from the start, "As Life Begins to Fade" unleashes the trio's faster and more aggressive side. Its blasting percussion and top-notch high-speed tremolo picking melodies strike the type of fire-eyed hypnotism that I always hope for from this genre, and with superb intensity. Truly impressive.

The longest track herein, "Paranoid Form II" offers more than seven minutes of cascading ambient tones and textures gently flowing in and out amidst tactfully improvisational-sounding clean guitar and bass; and it seems there could be some phantasmal whispers creeping into the distance as well. A lengthy intro of dry acoustic guitars and whispers with perhaps some cello or something beneath kicks off "Forbidden Dimension" before the speed returns—reining in the melody a touch for a slightly harsher attack as bass and guitar gnash to create a cacophonic pulse. "Paranoid Form III" buries a subtle machinated rhythm beneath an astral fog of dark ambient sounds—fairly consistent for its five-minute duration, and on some level similar in approach to the metal-based compositions in terms of its semi-hypnotic aesthetic.

With "Condemned to Burn," abstract scrapes are traded for dense bass lines beneath one of the album's most acerbically biting guitar riffs—transitioning into surging fast-paced melodies akin to the power of "As Life Begins to Fade." The piece shifts gears midway through as watery clean notes and spacey effects rebuild into an absolutely killer midpaced chord progression with a punchy swing. Those final minutes are just stellar!

The journey then draws to a sudden close with another barbaric, chaotically explosive contribution in the form of two-minute instrumental, "Cessation."

Available digitally or on cassette, I've not seen lyrics or a physical copy just yet, so I've little more to discuss at the moment. That being said, the most crucial component—the music—has certainly gotten my attention. Early as it may be, Dødsleie appears to have maintained a low-profile thus far, so hopefully that will change. In any case, I'd love to hear more from this project if schedules—and inspiration—permit. Quite well done…

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