Review Summary: Someone finally got it right.
The fusion of black metal and post-rock isn’t exactly new. In fact, it’s been attempted by numerous bands over the past several years. On paper, it sounds like a match made in heaven - a blissful marriage of crystalline tremolo riffing, passionate vocals, and climactic song structures. However, this theoretical juxtaposition of immense beauty against primal aggression almost always seems to fall short of being realized to full potential. Instead of being an enveloping ride of emotion and atmosphere, these efforts at musical alchemy usually turn out to be just plain boring. Fortunately, one small band (from China, of all places) finally found the Philosopher’s Stone. However, just as hope was redeemed, Dopamine disbanded. They can now best be remembered through this unofficial release, a collection of their best material originally featured on demos and splits.
Dying Away in the Deep Fall
opens with the jangly riffing that can be attributed as the hallmark of guitar-driven post-rock not unlike Explosions in the Sky. Soothing passages build and release their energy like a Venusaur’s Solar Beam. This ebb and flow draws the listener in to an attractive aural word tinged with palpable lament. Subtle dynamics in riff composition keep things fresh and interesting while the effectively executed rhythm components offer anchoring support. Just over fifteen minutes in, shrieks and accompanying blasts take hold and add a further tormented and more aggressive component to the portrait as the vocals go on to be contrasted against a backdrop of more serene guitar work. The fourth track opens immediately with a brief but frenzied metallic assault before fading back into gentler territory only to erupt once again. The emulsion is complete. The lighter opening tracks, complete entities themselves, help to transition the greater design from commingling to a more homogenous sonic union. The simple thoughtfulness in track arrangement allows for tracks that weren’t originally intended to poise one another to do exactly that.
While the prospect of what Dopamine could have achieved given a larger span in which to hone their sound is tantalizing, Dying Away in the Deep Fall
is a lovely remembrance of success already actualized. And while the band itself may never produce more material, its works remain to offer a glimpse at a formula that produces results surpassing its peers. One can only hope that this obscure group reaches a high enough pedestal for the already acclaimed acts of this persuasion to take notes, because this is how it should be done.