Dopelord - Sign Of The Devil review

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Band: Dopelord
Album: Sign Of The Devil
Release date: March 2020

01. The Witching Hour Bell
02. Hail Satan
03. Heathen
04. Doom Bastards
05. World Beneath Us
06. Headless Decapitator

Poland became quite the hotbed for interesting heavy stoner/psychedelic music in the decade just gone; amongst the leaders of this emerging pack, Dopelord are arguably the most conventional-sounding, and with that comes pros and cons.

A lot of their countrymen have managed to forge relatively distinctive paths for themselves in a genre that is more prone than most to homogeneity. Weedpecker's transition from low-key stoner metal to more psychedelic rock territory has not deprived them of their distinctive feel, whilst Spaceslug's ethereal approach and Sunnata's mixture of stoner, sludge, post-metal and raga enable each of them to stand out from the overflowing pack. Dopelord, on the other hand, wear their influences openly; one doesn't have to be an expert in this type of music to hear the legacy of Black Sabbath in the bassline opening "The Witching Hour Bell", whilst the similarities with Electric Wizard in particular are hard to miss. Dopelord play stoner doom metal, with relatively few surprises thrown in; however, a generic sound can still be enjoyable when done well, as it is here, and Dopelord are able to add in a few moments of variety across Sign Of The Devil.

Sign Of The Devil is comprised of six tracks, and seems to alternate between very classic-sounding stoner doom tracks cut from the Electric Wizard cloth and songs that branch out in different directions. "The Witching Hour Bell" is as classic a display of slow, fuzzy riffs, eerie vocals singing about the occult, and doom guitar solos as one could imagine; if you heard "Toledo", Dopelord's contribution to last year's Polish 4 Way Split, or previous album Children Of The Haze, nothing on this song, or on "Heathen" or "World Beneath Us", will surprise you. However, that doesn't mean that these aren't satisfying riffs or guitar leads to listen to, or that the appeal of Ozzy-inspired doom vocals has disappeared. People reach a certain point with genres such as stoner rock, thrash metal and others with an abundance of bands using the same approach where they either burn out or just end up enjoying anything good in that vein, no matter how unoriginal. If you're still open to hearing more music heavily in the vein of Witchcult Today and the like, and thankfully for Dopelord there is an established base to which that sounds ideal, these tracks should easily satisfy.

Nevertheless, as fun as these songs can be, it is the other tracks that add a bit of variety, enabling them to somewhat stand out. "Hail Satan" is still stoner doom, albeit a bit more energetic than "The Witching Hour Bell"; however, it has a dark aggression to it that distinguishes itself, from the harsher vocal approach to the driving riffs, and still finds time for a keyboard solo out of left field to spice up the ending. "Doom Bastards" builds upon that brief keyboard cameo by opening with synths, leading into the longest and softest track on Sign Of The Devil; from the lengthy mellow introduction through to doom and subsequently up-tempo rock riffs, this is the most diverse song on the record, and possibly the strongest. The last song on the record is the biggest departure; coming in at just over 90 seconds, "Headless Decapitator" is a brief flurry of hardcore punk. Honestly, it feels a bit throwaway and disconnected from the rest of the record, coming across more as a bonus track than the closing statement of the main album, but it's a fun enough little burst of energy after the sedate pace of "World Beneath Us".

Aside from a few brief moments of high-tempo action, Sign Of The Devil is a stoner doom album and proud. "The Witching Hour Bell" is a bit too entrenched in the works of others, but otherwise, if you haven't yet had your fill of this sound, Dopelord are fully capable exponents of it and you should find plenty to enjoy here. However, it would be interesting to see them push those little deviations that they experimented on this record further on future releases.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 5
Production: 8


Written on 25.05.2020 by Hey chief let's talk why not

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