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Dirge - Wings Of Lead Over Dormant Seas

  by Paul Raven

published: 24 / 10 / 2007

Dirge - Wings Of Lead Over Dormant Seas
Label: Equilibre Music
Format: CD


Flawed, but striking and moody combination of post rock, industrial music and metal on fourth album from the atmospheric Dirge

Dirge have been recording for almost a decade, which makes it all the more surprising that I'd never heard of them before listening to 'Wings Of Lead Over Dormant Seas'. Not that I'm in any way claiming some sort of musical omniscience – I just have a good network of friends who like the same obscure and moody music that I do, and for whom it's a point of honour to be the first to unearth a new treasure. But it looks like I'm the first to stumble upon Dirge, unless someone's been holding back on me. And I know what the first debate regarding them will be –how on earth should we classify this? Well, take your pick. According to the blurb on the promo sleeve, Dirge consider themselves a post-rock outfit. I can see that; these huge sprawling tracks - some of which clock in at well over fifteen minutes, packed full of tone and texture and changes of direction – certainly partake of the post-rock aesthetic of sonic indulgence and the shunning of simple hooks and melodies. But I'd put forward the notion you could bracket them as an industrial band, too. Not from the drum-machines-and-shouting end of the spectrum, mind you – I'm thinking more the deafening layered assault of acts like Jesu or Swans, music that crushes you not by punching and kicking, but by smothering you in a vast tarpaulin of thick tarry doom. And there's a liberal borrowing from old-school goth and death metal, too. The former lends a sense of ambient space, with almost whimsically melancholic and delicate passages that build tension and atmosphere, while the latter brings crushing guitars, muffled and distant as if played on a festival PA somewhere beyond the nearest hill, and bellowing vocals with a similar treatment, like a tortured soul sedated by strong drugs and an eternity of impotent fury. In case it hasn't already become clear, 'Wings Of Lead Over Dormant Seas' is not the sort of album you'll want to put on after a particularly bad day at work. And it has its flaws. As much as indulgence may be a core part of the post-rock approach, there can be too much of a good thing, and some sections of some of the tunes here do outstay their welcome. What fascinates me is that the promo version doesn't include the title track of the album, which allegedly encompasses an entire second disc due to being over an hour long. It's an astonishing conceit, and I'd be fascinated to hear what they've managed to do with that amount of space; perhaps indulgence is a side function of ambition. So, if you're in the right frame of mind – not necessarily miserable, but willing to wander in the shadowy parts of your psyche for a while – you'll never run short of new things to notice. As the old saying goes, the devil is in the details, and here you can chase him across walls of heavy guitar and muted electronic tones, and in the spaces between the languid, funereal beats that bring to mind the solemn bitter pace of a death march ... or of a Dirge. 'Wings Of Lead Over Dormant Seas' is far from perfect, but it's still a striking and moody slice of dark dystopia, a post-apocalyptic land well worth exploring if you have the courage. Don't forget your gun.

Track Listing:-
1 Meridians
2 End, Infinite
3 Epicentre
4 Lotus Continent
5 Nulle Part
6 Wings Of Lead Over Dormant Seas

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