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(59:15 / EAM Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Thalassa Dominion I 4:29 2. Thalassa Dominion II 6:20 3. Thalassa Dominion III 7:06 4. Thalassa Dominion IV 5:12 5. Solarwinds 6:10 6. Descent 5:26 7. Lava 6:01 8. Aquatic Majesty 6:06 9. Liquid Desert 6:37 10. Heart of the Sea 5:49 LINEUP: Thanasis Lightbridge - synthesizers Dim - guitar Nick Terry - bass Alex Holzwarth - drums With: Mixed operatic choir &: DC Cooper - vocals
Prolusion. This international formation, DOL AMMAD, is originally the brainchild of Greek keyboardist and songwriter Thanasis Lightbridge, who founded the project back in 2000. "Ocean Dynamics" is their sophomore release, following "Star Tales" from 2004. (Vitaly's extra note: drummer Alex Holzwarth is a permanent member of Sieges Even, a highly innovative prog-metal band from Germany.)
Analysis. Dol Ammad draw together many different strands in their music. As the band themselves state on their homepage: "The music of Dol Ammad follows no structure. It is highly descriptive and unpredictable. It can be epic, minimalist, soundtrack-like, ethereal, fierce, energetic, optimistic and pessimistic. The spectrum of influences is so wide that one can even find moments of trance, new age, black metal, ethnic and jazz. Heavy metal, however, is always the base of all the aural explorations of Dol Ammad". Which is indeed quite an accurate description of the band's work. However, the most distinct features of this recording are influences from electronic music like Jarre or Vangelis and those from various forms of heavy metal, prog-metal included, with elements of trance, industrial and black metal as secondary features, though the sound of rhythm section very often comes across as something both aggressive and massive, with the drumming being as frenetic as in extreme metal. One way or another, personally I see the key aspect of Dol Ammad's approach as their finesse in filling their music with an atmosphere of drama. The songs here are all pronouncedly dramatic in character, the electronica-dominated tunes and the metal-inspired ones alike. The synthesizers accumulate that specific mood, while the other instruments, and above all drums and guitars, further enhance the feel of drama, so in the end it's clear that the electronic and the metal components each reveal an approximately quantity of corresponding shades. However it's the vocals that are most of all crucial to the dramatic effect of this music. The choir consisting of seven women and seven men, whose role is nothing other than as operatic singers, handles the absolute majority of the vocal parts, the only exception to that rule being Aquatic Majesty, on which is featured the additional voice of one:-) DC Cooper. Classic operatic vocals always add a sense of drama to music, and when those are delivered by a choir, the level of drama achieved can be more than massive, even bombastic. In this particular case however, everything is done skillfully in that field, thus avoiding ending up as overly pompous. The ten songs on "Ocean Dynamics" are all well written, carefully arranged and competently performed, the majority of them being good in all senses, which results in a high quality release.
Conclusion. "Ocean Dynamics" is a strong album, marked with an original approach to combining different musical forms, and is quite a fascinating listening experience. While the high level of dramatic quality in the soundscapes will not appeal to everyone (lovers of subtle and shaded keyboard canvases in heavy music will not get much joy from this recording), most omnivorous prog- and goth metal fans will certainly find it a worth listen, particularly those enjoying bands like Nightwish.
OMB=Olav M. Bjornson: January 2, 2008
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