Album: The High And Mighty
Written by: Aaron Michael Kobes
In under four short years Singapore duo, Dozethrone, which is composed of Azmi Czar and Izhar Ashburn, have amassed seventeen releases of Sludge infused Doom Metal. More impressive than that, is how these releases are typically impromptu jam sessions which often happen while the two are not even in the same room. Seemingly unimpressed by themselves, Dozethrone states of themselves that they, “…perform(s) riffs that are boring, monotonous and repetitive”, and while I agree with the latter-most portion of that description I would have to strongly disagree with the former two portions.
In their latest effort, The High and Mighty, Dozethrone pays homage to the variation of the riff that is near worship-like in the album’s forty-five-minute runtime. At first listen, one could be inclined to agree with Dozethrone’s self-deprecating proclamation. However, listening to The High and Mighty several times over the past week, some noteworthy aspects of the album began to make themselves clearer. The first and perhaps most major, is the fact that this entire album is worked around a singular riff that is moved about the scale, deconstructed, slowed down, sped up and treated to all sorts of subgenre fanfare. The true musicianship within the album then comes from altering the modalities just enough to have the outcomes differ, while simultaneously keeping enough of the original for it to still be recognized as a point of origin- a sort of root riff. The effect is a bizarre sort of musical uncanny valley, where you’re unsure if you’ve just been listening to the same chugging of a riff for so long that you have entered into a trance-like state.
Another noteworthy aspect is the nuance of transition that is given to each portion of the album. Consider the opening titular track, wherein the song essentially functions as the skeleton of an album; containing a coda intro/outro that is a sort of unstructured soft entry/exit from the music, with the meat of the album contained between, or in the case of The High and Mighty, the riff. Also included in this are certain subgenre elements that are spaced out throughout the remainder of the album on the subsequent two tracks, from Post-Rock to Death infused Doom and even some Stoner thrown in by way of solo work. While admittedly the transitioning between genres within this first track leaves something to be desired, as it is rather abrupt, I suspect that there was intent behind it as the later transitions are done much more smoothly. For instance, around the twelve-minute mark of Don’t Remember Where I Was, there is a transition from the fuzzed-out Stoner-influenced groove/riff to a cleaner cut and deliberate-feeling riff that has Post-Rock written all over, before transmogrifying the two components together a few measures later to unleash their signature Sludge infused Doom sound.
The final noteworthy aspect I will make mention of, though there are still others and I encourage everyone reading this to find them for yourself, is how Dozethrone unlocked the unlimited with the limited. According to their Bandcamp Credits section, The High and Mighty was credited using only two different types of guitars and singular bass, a PRS SE Hollowbody guitar, Kramer Baretta Special guitar, and an Ibanez Mezzo bass. While this may seem like something of little consequence, especially given the nature of certain guitar players and their affinity for pedals and effects, I would point out that the pedals and effects utilized throughout the album are kept to a minimum, perhaps four or a half dozen on the outside chance I’m incorrect or misheard.
Dozethrone has chosen to rely upon simplified means of exploration, and as such, have created a thoroughly engaging trip through multiple subgenres just by their knowledge of them and skill/wherewithal to execute such a task. An example of this is how the same guitar effect is used around the eight-and-a-half-minute mark of Don’t Remember Where I Was and in Lurid Dreams, however, Azmi Czar’s clever use of space and timing within Lurid Dreams in conjunction with the percussive track create the proto-Doom sound, whereas the aforementioned portion of Don’t Remember cultivates a Sludge infused Stoner vibe. Examples such as this are strewn throughout the album, and it adds to the already viable replay ability factor, and seeing what two musicians, with the occasional studio drummer, can accomplish in so short a time and with limited material trappings on top of creating their music sans vis-à-vis creates a level of excitement in seeing what this project comes out with next.
Be righteous by listening to and supporting Dozethrone on Bandcamp: