Artist: Dystopia Nå!
Album: Dweller On The Threshold
Label: Avantgarde Music
Dystopia Nå! What a band name! This is (obviously) Norwegian for Dystopia Now! Dweller on the Threshold is Dystopia Nå’s second album. This band has such an interesting approach to the style of music they are attempting to do, which is apparently depressive black metal, but with so many other elements pushed into it that you couldn’t be blamed for calling this a progressive black/death album.
Dystopia Nå is a band that is made up of three multi-instrumentalists, each member taking on more than one role. This, as I’ve noticed before with another multi-instrumentalist band I recently reviewed, Amiensus, makes for very dynamic pieces that introduce a lot of different sounds within a single song. Like I said earlier, the sound is very progressive metal, although there is very little of the standard wankery present here.
Half of this album is comprised of lengthy tracks (above 8 minutes usually), and the rest of it is really short songs (the longest being just under 4 minutes, but most not even cracking the 3 minute mark). What you get are beastly slabs of music broken up by thoughtful interludes, where Dystopia Nå indulges in mostly ambient, piano-driven pieces. All in all, I’d say it makes for a nicely paced album; the metal is upfront, and the ambient is only around long enough to push onwards to the next big song. However, many of the shorter songs also include what can only be described as electronic sections, and they almost feel like they could be songs from a movie soundtrack. They are definitely much different from the long songs.
But, since the long songs make up the majority of the album’s run time, I’d like to focus on each one of them. Each big song feels like it is so different from the last in tone and sound. The first song is a driving, relentless passage, definitely drawing from death and even doom to get its sound. The next long song almost sounds like it wants to be sludge, although there are slower, softer sections as well, and even some clean vocals and synth-lead departures. The third long song, my personal favourite, is closest to the depressive black metal sound, and draws heavily from the post-metal elements that are now-standard within the genre. It also features some really great clean vocal sections give the song and the album an even greater range. The album closes out with the last two big pieces, the first one being almost entirely devoid of metal, the second one being the heaviest piece on the album. The first song is such a great song, but let’s not fool around here; aside from the end, it’s essentially a progressive rock song. It would fit better as a bittersweet ballad from Dream Theater or Haken. Hell, it even features a guitar solo, the only one on the album. The final song is beast, the longest song of the album, closing it out in the true epic finisher fashion. It touches every type of sound that has come before it, and really ties together the end.
Overall, this is a strong album. There is a lot to like here, even if you don’t enjoy all of it. Dystopia Nå covers lots of different styles and sounds with Dweller on the Threshold, showing off lots of musicianship. However, because of its very wide range of sounds, I feel like there isn’t something to cling to; I’m left a little lost on what to call this album, as I’m sure many people will be. To me, I feel like I’m listened to an album as progressive as Disillusion’s Back to Times of Splendor or Ana Kefr’s The Burial Tree (II). Unlike these bands, which draw heavily on death metal, Dystopia Nå uses black metal, post-rock, and ambient to develop their sound. It’s definitely an interesting album that deserves a few good listens.