Album Review: Dystopia A.D. – Doomsday Psalm

Album Review: Dystopia A.D. – Doomsday Psalm
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Let’s take a look at something a little different, instead of the usual blistering death metal we have something more melodic this time round. Enter New Jersey-grown Dystopia A.D. The band may have only been together since 2017 but in this short timespan they’ve managed to create a decent amount of material that people can flock to in order to satisfy their curiosities. The band released their first demo in the same year but very quickly, they had what is now their first full length work released titled Designing Ruin. It may have been another two years but Dystopia A.D. would soon enough unveil plans for a new EP, Rise Of The Merciless, which is where we are now, another two years down the line, with their second full length album set to release in the early December period. Doomsday Psalm is a striking cover, one that brought me over to the band in the first place. Considering I’d never heard of these guys before prior to this record, I was pretty interested to see what would be lurking inside.

The vocals are something that struck me almost instantly. What you’ll realise soon enough is that the vocals is never comprised of a singular performance, one track alone may have as many as three unique vocal deliveries; all of which are delivered with ecstatic bile and energy convincing us that they are each performed deliberately an d are not to be written off as tertiary pieces to a primary form of delivery. It ensures that our attention is forever firmly fixed on what is happening because, vocally speaking, we have no idea what kind of delivery a heck segment could hurl at us. It could be visceral, it could be guttural, it could be more down to earth; we have no clue how the band will go about their vocal performances seeing as how there is no distinct formula going on. It’s entirely down to how the songwriting is moving and what it may be demanding in the moment-by-moment play.

The band really put the “melodic” into melodic death metal here. It’s hardly the typical slab-like performance where you can feel the weight of the riffs piling down on you as the band move forward. It’s impressive how much content can be heard and digested throughout just a single track; owing to the rapidly changing and meandering nature of the band’s songwriting, the riffs and structures are never placed in any one static position. You will be found in a thoroughly different place at the end of a song than you were at the start, nor do you feel like you’ve simply returned to the place where you started as scores of other bands make you feel. There’s this legitimate sense of journey that goes with this record as you move from one track to the other; it isn’t that the band employ anything pertaining to progressive techniques, but rather how their melodic tendencies feel fleshed out and break up tracks into smaller components thereby rendering them easier to experience and recall yet, guaranteeing audiences still enjoy the adventure taken with them.

Album Review: Dystopia A.D. – Doomsday Psalm

I appreciate how Dystopia A.D. didn’t go into this album, whether through writing nor recording, with the overwhelming intentions of making it a power trip. As you wander through track after track, you’ll notice how the band don’t actually go too crazy on your senses. For a lot of their songwriting, the aim has been to invest you into their soundscape, to ensure your immersion as you become able to follow along with their songwriting and ever-evolving melodic escapades. This is no speedfest, the band want you to sit back and bask in all they have brought to the table; the majority of their work here is spent with a gradual pace that sees your head slow down as it understands it doesn’t need to try too hard to keep up with the barrage of riffs or vocal changes. The band may throw an onslaught of content our way but since they aren’t concerned with rampant intensity, it makes it all the more accessible.

I enjoyed the versatility of the drumming within. Just as the guitar work is being interspersed with acoustic work and riffs that are somewhat more lax than your typically crushing death metal affair, the drumming is just as varied and different and it definitely makes an impact unto our experience of this record. Like any rudimentary riff, the drums can be just as sporadic regarding their intensity; naturally there are blast beats to be found within but the band far from indulge themselves with their inclusion, if anything they are one of the rarer forces the drums utilise. The majority of the drumming consists of pretty conventional patterns that wouldn’t be out of place in any traditional work of metal, yet you then have drumming that is pretty nicely paced and isn’t vying to be the fastest or most aggressive piece out there. Their drummer evidently knows his craft and his kit for he’s able to clearly employ the majority of his kit to create drumming that is not only engaging but fits the overall aesthetic the songwriting may require of it.

In conclusion, Dystopia A.D. bring us melodic death metal that doesn’t go overdrive on us. It’s a pretty calm album in that respect, you’ll receive the full swathe of aggression and power that you’d expect to find herein but the band nicely refrain from roaring in your face. In this approach, the band are able to unveil everything they have planned for us but they aren’t expecting us to race alongside their songwriting; it’s why their form and songwriting feels so rammed with material, a single track feels more fleshed out than another band may conjure with half a record. It feels like a journey as we’ve touched upon beforehand, where the band allow us the time and space to move on our own accord and follow them as we so choose. In this way, the band give us the freedom to return time and again should we believe we’ve missed something and that only ensures the band may see positive fan reception cemented. Ultimately this album was a little change of pace from my usual thing but I’m glad I checked it out. It’s entertaining and enthralling melodic death metal.

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