Dool – Summerland: Album Review

Progressively tinted Dutch dark rock from Dool that finds colour in the shadows.

Released: 10th April 2020

Label: Prophesy Productions

Format: CD / LP / Digital

Much was made of the influence the smog-choked backdrop of industrial Birmingham had on the forging of Black Sabbath’s doom and gloom heavy rock back in the late sixties. “There was something in the air,” they said, that informed the now iconic quartet’s downbeat lyricisms, bedded atop suitably clanging and industrious instrumentals; Tony Iommi’s guitars sounded like pounding machinery and the band as a whole really felt like a mutated by-product of the city’s demeanour.

For Rotterdam born outfit Dool it is something they can deeply relate to. So much so, in fact, that they partly blame – and cite as an influence – the harbour city’s fumes for their own gloomy brand of rock. Through tasteful flirtations with prog, doom and gothic styles across their stunning debut full length, Summerland, nature – or at least mankind’s destruction of it – is proving to once again to be a symbiotic partner of shadowy heavy rock.

There’s something compelling about the darkness of their sound. The weight of Nick Polak and Omar Iskandr’s macabre guitarscapes are deftly counter balanced by the floaty, bi-polar vocals of Ryanne van Dorst, bringing to mind at different points acts as diverse as Ghost, Killing Joke, Katatonia and Pearl Jam.

The imagery laced opener Sulphur & Starlight sets a suitably moody scene with its bright yet brooding acoustic guitars giving way for depressive, wrung out overdriven guitar textures. Here, Van Dorst sings of darkness and disparity between herself and the song’s subject, the cutting line “I have never seen fortune in your flames” icing a chorus that sounds both defeated and triumphant and it is that emotive balancing act which makes their record such a success. There are guitar solos that draw greatly from the occult worshipping, good time chasing leads of Ghost, solos that you can dance to (check out the gorgeous solo on The Well’s Run Dry for instance), which brighten their overcast musicality. Then there’s the HIM meets Katatonia of Wolf Moon’s gothic chorus and the acoustic draped reveries of Ode To The Future which, in line with a band like Royal Thunder, plays out like an inverted fairytale. That blending together of mournfulness, mystery and might makes Summerland hugely rewarding.

The party in hell romp of Be Your Sins, the devilish, Alice In Chains go doom ballad of A Glass Forest and the villainous grooves of The Well’s Run Dry post-metal experiments all find colour within their respective darkness and it’s mystifying. From a thick plume of smoke and dreariness chiming guitars and Van Dorst’s powerful, tenacious vocals often transform their purposefully greyscale soundscapes vibrant.

It’s a record with soul and honesty, with a rich of textures, colours and flavours. It’s a record amass with songs that aren’t afraid to nod their heads to its vast array of influences because here is a band so convinced of their own devious personality’s worth, they can cut it close to the bone at times, because ultimately, Summerland is much stronger for it. 

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