You’d have to be the most glass-half-full kind of person to deny that the start of 2021 hasn’t really been big on good times. It’s cold, raining and nothing’s open. In short it’s been kind of depressing. It’s ironic then that a band as synonymous with doom as Poland’s Dopelord have come along with a release which has significantly cheered me up. Slow, Sabbathian doom isn’t traditionally your first port of call when it comes to something to brighten your day, but Dopelord’s melodic brand of psych-laced metal is so masterfully done that it’s capable of sparking a macabre kind of joy all its own.
Whereas last year’s acclaimed Sign of the Devil album was a fairly serious affair, all medieval imagery and staggering heaviness, the Reality Dagger EP feels a little more like a band having fun. As indicated from the Argento inspired artwork, this EP has clearly taken some inspiration from the technicolour gore of 70’s Eurohorror, and the 3 blood-soaked tracks here don’t disappoint. Opener ‘Dark Coils’ is a bluesy slice of malformed psychedelia, which includes some woozy guitar work from Grzegorz Pawłowski and suitably melodramatic howling from vocalist Paweł Mioduchowski. It’s a great example of Dopelord’s ability to write killer hooks and choruses while maintaining an underground vibe. ‘Your Blood’ similarly melds stoner grooves with touches of NWOBHM and even a little bit of King Diamond-style vocal histrionics to create a ghoulish mid-tempo head nodder. The main event here though is the 10-minute plus title track, a multi-faceted epic. Starting out with a bleak, sludge metal influenced riff and vocal the track slowly cascades into a lysergic jam which showcases the band at their heaviest, before again transforming into a chugging acid rock groove monster as it heads towards the finish line. You can tell the band enjoy playing the track as much as we enjoy hearing it.
Like their peers Spaceslug, Elephant Tree and Green Lung, Dopelord have been injecting fresh energy into the doom/stoner genres over the last few years. With releases like Reality Dagger they’re continuing to showcase not only their skill as songwriters but also their affection for the genre and all its abundant cliches. The band aren’t breaking any new ground, but when they sound this good they don’t have to.
Reality Dagger is out now via Green Plague Records and can be ordered here.
Words: Dan Cadwallader