Review Summary: A 9-year gap in between albums that turned out to be worth waiting for, Dordeduh surpassed all expectations in creating one of the year's finest, most spiritual-sounding albums.
Considering all the promise that debut album Dar De Duh
gave back in 2012, it's a real shame that Romania's Dordeduh hasn't released anything else up to now. That said, the debut effort was strident and majestic enough to both satisfy long-term Negura Bunget fans and give a fresh perspective on extreme metal at the time, soundly confirming that Sol Faur and Hupogrammos had lofty ambitions from the very start. So, arriving with the weight of expectation on its shoulders, does sophomore effort Har
fulfil the promise shown by its predecessor?
With those opening notes of wispy ambiance and earthy rhythms, opener “Timpul intailor” delivers everything you'd want from a new Dordeduh album and more. Initially settled in its spacey, atmospheric first couple of minutes, the song evolves dramatically and seamlessly, invoking those gutsy roars of Hupogrammos and developing them into a harmonic force alongside mesmeric keyboard work and a rhythm section which batters your psyche at just the right time. It's a real earth-shaking sound and you'd be forgiven for thinking subsequent songs would pale in comparison, but the album is simply warming up. The exemplary prog-minded inspiration of “In Vielistea Uitarii” digs deep with those lilting keyboards and painstaking earthy roars, trading the sound for a lighter metallic edge rife with grandiosity. Importantly, each and every instrument seems to have room to breathe, fully exploring the band's musical ambitions and proving they are fully intertwined as a collective. This is continued in fine fashion thanks to the sudden burst of vocal prowess, Flavius Misaras developing his dulcet tones into a substantial background as the guitars and dulcimer glide to and fro, before the song reaches a spectacular climax and you're left wanting to gaze at the nightsky. It's that sort of lasting impression that makes you feel euphoric, and we're not even a third of the way into the album yet.
There's so much more to talk about with Har
that a mere review won't cover all grounds, but what's most consistently satisfying here is surely the songwriting. Every song just seems like a fluidly energetic performance, where each member of the band never seem to get tired (nor should they, so spirited is the activity on the album). The harmonic grouped vocal chant of “Descant” is a fine example, initially sinister in its folksy approach as the percussion settles into heavier rhythms, returning in the song's latter stages to how it started. Similarly, “Desfecarat” is absorbing and so well-balanced, once again ensuring every individual element is given the same attention and care. It's certainly doomier and darker-tinged than “Descant” but showcases the same grouped vocal techniques, once again placing you into a state of stillness as the lively musicianship unfolds, that lilting atmosphere developing into a mesmerizing climax. You get the same inspiration with a song of “Vraci de Nord”'s magnitude, which thoroughly justifies its near 12-minute runtime and has as much in its well of originality as the other 10+ minute epics. What sets “Vraci de Nord” apart from the rest perhaps is its stunning outro, a fully atmospheric and fantastical soundscape which could almost be written for a film score had it not lasted only a few minutes. Yet the instrumental balance even in “Vraci de Nord”'s closing stages continues to be an outstanding aspect of Har
, and goes to show the album is just as good listened to in parts as it is in full.
The album is rife with inspiration, but it's pleasing to know that the shorter songs on the album which don't even reach three minutes have just as much creativity at their helm as the album's longest pieces do. “Calea Magilor” is more of a vocal centrepiece and invokes a warmly atmospheric sound, but unfolds layers upon layers of musical addition which sees the folksier elements become just as important as the backing percussion. Once again, a great feeling of togetherness which sees each individual band member shine. Closer “Vaznesit” rounds things off finely, leading from the finishing polish of “De Neam Vergur” and guiding you to a more comfortable presence, one which is still spiritual and all-encompassing but ensures the album finished as well as it started.
Amongst all the different aspects Har
has in its repertoire, the spirit of the album is how collective and well-balanced it seems. This is not just an album fusing dark folk elements and extreme metal, it is a representation of how far musical inspiration can be taken when each member of a band has the same passion for musical ambition and spirit. Har
reflects this in several ways, but what it does do most importantly is giving a refreshed and ethereal feeling to the listener, soundly confirming Dordeduh as one of the most unique metal bands in the world.