I confess. The RMR deck crew never heard of Dordeduh until we discovered Har. And at first, it was just the somewhat bizarre band name that struck me. But then, we have seen worse in this weird metal multiverse. Much worse.
And once I fired up the piece, I also understood that this was not in a language that I speak1) but some Eastern dialect. As in Eastern Europe – or Central Europe in modern speak.
And sure enough, I finally figured that it is Romanian, and that’s interesting. Because their lands positively gorge with dark tales and myths. This offers all sorts of themes to construct a record with. Only, I have no idea what tales they tell,2) and Google Translate ain’t a good companion.
So, language difficulties notwithstanding, let’s concentrate on the music. And Har is a nifty one. This is yet again a style-defying piece that freely tramples across any and all sorts of sound flavors.
In a way, the album sounds like a harsher mix of Karma Rassa with a few additional hooks attached to it.3) An avant-garde slice of hot metal, post-metal, and folksy ambients that quietly moves from prog, over various types of electronica into a harsh type of lightly atmospheric Black Metal.
Yet, the record does not present itself as blackened as the tune pretended to be on its predecessor Dar De Duh4) of some nine years ago. Rather, I found it sandwiched somewhere in between black and death. Not that this steals its very own thunder in any way, much to the contrary. The Black Metal breaks on the former record always translated into something a tad too harsh for its own good. And this has now improved. Gone is the more traditional sound, and in come adapted versions of the style, just the way the current soundscape demands it.
Next, Har surely impressed me with its stellar precision and a smoothly cool flow. Dordeduh left nothing to chance. Tight songwriting, followed by outstanding arrangement. Albeit, that some parts are still a bit rough around the edges, but really nothing to write home about.
And it is this smooth mix of harsh metal, floating ambient traditional instrumentals, prog, and – yes – sudden subtle attempts at classical grandeur that makes all the difference. The folks over at Dordeduh truly understand their business. To top it all, the soaring and often soothing clears effortlessly switch to harsher vocal realms of the soundscape. And this always happens at the precise moment that a change in tonality is called for.
Already Har‘s first epic track Timpul întâilor glued my earphones to my head. It’s a fascinating song with its rapidly evolving themes throughout its runtime. I could probably construct a full review just for this track only. A bag of wonders, chock-a-block full of often delightful details for just this slice of the record. In fact, if you search for the essence of this album, look no further.
Yet, the easy groove of În vieliștea uitării – the second track – took us aback once again. Those are outstanding songs that can all stand by themselves. Every track on this record sports its own flavor, like the #3 – Descânt – that impressed us with its finely chiseled prog structures. Boy, they even got the monologue right at the end of that track.
It does also show that the band let Jens Bogren have a go at the mix. Yet, sometimes I wish they had injected a tad more oomph into their production. A bit more shock-and-awe would have done a world of good to an already great record.
That said, the daunting length of Har indeed turns out to be its enemy at times. The almost 12-minute piece Vraci de nord – for instance – does have that tendency to needlessly noodle about the soundscape. So, a more severe clipping of some loose ends may have been beneficial.
Ultimately however, all of those negatives stated earlier are dwarfed by the sheer level of quality Dordeduh throw at the audience. And they do that with an apparent carelessness when the production tells us that the band left nothing to chance. And that is proof of some geeky mastery right there.
Har is a record for the connoisseur and one of the best albums we came across in 2021 so far. A piece that will speak to the tastes of metalheads and adepts of avant-garde rock music alike. And – indeed – one that will reveal all its many qualities and facets only after a few spins.
So, give it time, ardent traveler of weird and wondrous soundscapes that rock and metal offer these days. Let Har reveal itself to you, you won’t regret it.
Ed’s note: And congrats, the record made it onto the 2021 Top 10 Records!