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Dictator - "Dysangelist" (CD)

Dictator - "Dysangelist" CD cover image

"Dysangelist" track listing:

1. Dysangelist (19:07)
2. Sanctus (20:37)
3. Monolithos (20:04)
4. Phantom Cenotaphium (15:15)

Reviewed by on November 25, 2009

"Interestingly, you can pick up a re-release on tape which comes in a hand-made wooden case, one in which may or may not contain human bones. Doomy indeed."

Creating a little stir in the underground with a demo/EP combo, one man Cypriot band Dictator followed this pair up with a debut full length that I hold in my hands, “Dysangelist.” Dictator makes no mistake about its intent - a funeral doom band that crosses over into the black metal and ambient realms. Interestingly, you can pick up a re-release on tape which comes in a hand-made wooden case, one in which may or may not contain human bones. Doomy indeed.

Dictator undoubtedly is inclined for fans of bands like Nortt and Wormphlegm, funeral doom bands with a penchant for reaching into the blackest darkness, the lowest depths. If you’re familiar with any of these genres or bands I’m throwing out you’ll know what to expect - long ambient sections, monolithic riff mongering and about an hour's worth of pure misery packed onto an album.

The opener "Dysangelist" starts us of well, with an inventive piano line and emotive melody driving the song into your head. In fact, the main sections of this track are where the magic happens. The lead guitar has a nice frailty to it that the melody matches, creating auras of My Dying Bride meets a raw melodic black metal ethos.

However whether planned or not, the songs follow relatively the same path - long dirge, ambient section, dirge reprise. Obligatory and forced ambient sections along with some general bog-standard funeral doom riffing cuts the album into interesting sections punctuated with not so interesting sections. Track two, "Santus," is a good example of a song that's not bad, but lacks the dynamics or emotional force to reckon with a band like Mournful Congregation of whom it sounds so very much like.

The vocals are also “only” the standard fare, but not substandard by any means. Compared to bands like Wormphlegm, Xasthur, Leviathan etc. they won't have you remembering any particular lines or sections... they're more or less just there (or more precisely, lurking raspily in the outer darkness).

Unfortunately, the production doesn’t help, as it leans towards black metal rather than funeral doom. Sometimes even genuinely tough to listen to, the main culprit is the rhythm guitar which sounds more like a wall of static. Often oddly juxtaposed beside clean instruments like distant synths, clean guitars or piano lines, the guitar fuzz here seems raw beyond all need, masking the subtleties that a band of this type so desperately needs.

Of the entire metal spectrum, doom metal in particular gets an easy treatment from the metal community, with many releases perhaps unworthily praised because of the sheer nihilistic bleakness they conceptualize. So a question is posed; Is this album a massive, emotionally despondent monster? Yes, of course. Is that enough to rival any of the bands it emulates? Unfortunately not. The truth in this case is that Dictator has aimed for a great target of a melodic black/funeral doom mix, but like the arrow has sunk below the lofty target it is aiming for.

Highs: Some nice funeral doom riffing in the opener and blotted around this marathon epic.

Lows: General doom meandering and frustratingly raw guitar dominating the mix.

Bottom line: Dictator has aimed for a great target of a melodic black/funeral doom mix, but like the arrow has sunk below the lofty target it is aiming for.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)