The RMR deck crew fancies bands gallivanting across styles and genres. Those with little regard to the proverbial little boxes the purists like so much. Because they are the ones that bring that fresh wind into stale soundscapes that often border on the morose.
The appetites for charting new courses vary of course. You get the politically correct ones that carefully navigate about their metal.
And then you get the carefree bands. Those that happily throw the compass overboard and just head out into that wide-open metal sea. Never mind cliffs, storms, and maneuvers.
And Dawn of Ouroboros with their new album The Art of Morphology is one of them. A record at such a level of weird complexity that the thought of reviewing it kinda annoyed me. And already the title of the piece is somewhat of an oxymoron. Go figure.
But hey, we never said that we fancy an easy life, right? After all, being confined with no concert to go to at present, now is a jolly good time to give this record some undue attention and ruffle some feathers in the process.
The Art of Morphology draws from an awful lot of influences. And for cause. Very simplistically spoken, Dawn of Ouroboros stitched a former version of Steven Wilson together with those crunchy Death and Black Metal vibes from the pit.
Not that they follow any playbook, but – hey – there’s only so much Alcest and early Ulver can explain. And even throwing in that somewhat confused Mayhem – Burzum – Bathory medley won’t necessarily save the day.
Because as of the first track, you get this impression of style elements thrown helter-skelter about the soundscape. Badly joined diametrically opposed poles that somehow killed that coherence that such eclectic pieces desperately need. They must have used that infamous pirate compass that points to nowhere. Because – at first – The Art of Morphology desperately lacks flow and purpose.
In other words, the doom-laden Revivified Spirits and Pinnacle Induced Vertigo kinda drone on in their very own somewhat disjointed splendor. Which – come to think of it – is no good if you are to convince your audience that your piece is worth their money in the first minute or so. Even if their blackened allure spews whiffs of Fleshgod Apocalypse a little later.
Which was THE incentive that made us continue further down the tracklist.
But then nothing in The Art of Morphology really works according to common marketing rules. Any rules, actually. From the strangely structured tracklist, over the choice of style and song structure, to the complicated wordplays that will put most people off. Much mischief in one place, methinks. But will this damage the quality of the record?
Now, an unconvincingly weak start notwithstanding, things truly look more lively after the weird piano waves of Gateway to Tenebrosity sweep by. Tracks like Spiral of Hypnotism or Sorrow’s Eclipse really blew us away. Finally, there’s some vicious bite in your metal. From blackened Death Metal to true tremolo fests, all is there to please that reviewer’s cold metal heart.
And now the flow is present at last. Prog integrates smoothly into harsh vocals and the overall arrangement starts to make sense. It’s a real pity that the band pretty much wasted the first half of the record until they turned that power button to full juice. If only they had done that right away, The Art of Morphology would be one mean killer record.
Progressive parts, cool atmospherics, together with Post Black Metal freely mingle. And now, late in the game, on a canvas of tightly written red-hot metal, you’ll get those symbiotically connected prog and ambient parts. As an added bonus of sorts, Dawn of Ouroboros even throws some sweet Extreme Metal dissonance at you that will shame bands like Wardaemonic into a stupor. And freeze your soul at the same time.
It was a relief to the crew here to see this all come together, late but not too late. With that somewhat dreamy flow that we searched for before. Because ’tis the essence of The Art of Morphology and it finally boasts a finely chiseled facade of pretty cool metal musicianship.
None of that would have been possible, though, without that stellar contribution of Chelsea Murphy. Clears or harsh vocals, nothing is beyond her. I guess the band will need to pay attention to keep the lady aboard, lest she’ll wander off to juicier shores. She does have that kind of talent to make it big. But make no mistake, Dawn of Ouroboros – by itself – are a talented bunch. And they ain’t scared to challenge themselves to pretty impressive feats.
So, let’s wrap this up some.
Welcome to the underground. The Art of Morphology is one of those visceral records that immediately latch on to you. This is also why it’s so disconcerting. You feel the vibes, you get the talent, the stellar musicianship and this desire of the band to take it that one step further. But you can’t wrap your mind around it until everything is consumed. Thrice, and then some.
Dawn of Ouroboros really serve us with an untamed piece of metal. The record boasts a pig-headed variety of styles wildly mixed together and served on a platter of truly hot rock and metal. A tasty, juicy chunk of alloy that stumbled a bit at the beginning, but found firm footing later on, to end with a flourish that made us yearn for more.
If you are a fan of the unreal, of new territory yet unknown, metal wastes yet unexplored, then The Art of Morphology is for you. But I beg you, take your time. The fare is jolly good, but – boy – it’s complex.