Thursday, July 4, 2013

Dol Theeta - Keep Deep (EP) (2013)

Thanasis Lightbridge isn't a household name, at least not in the global metal scene. He is noted most often as an electronic artist, but his interests and talents go far beyond hitting play on a MacBook. Through his various side projects, he explores the common ground between electronic music and metal, even going so far as to dub his website and DIY label "Electronic Art Metal." And while this combination has been explored ad nauseum, to mixed results at best, that hasn't stopped Lightbridge from moing forward with his Dol Theeta moniker. Here he combines his manufactured beats with crunching distorted guitars and a beautifully symphonic voice, hoping to find that legendary shared space that few have achieved. On the latest release, the newly unveiled "Keep Deep," Lightbridge and company do a lot to help their cause.  But if one new song, one orchestral "remix" and one cover song are all we have to go on, it might be too soon to tell if this is a match made in heaven.

That focus on electronica is inescapable, with the opening to the title track flooded with a slew of beats and robotic elements. But as piano keys cut through, you get the inkling there might be more in store. An angelic female voice leads the way, with Kortessa barely bridging the gap between trance and metal. It isn't until nearly the five minute mark that the assimilation becomes complete, with the first emergence of distorted guitars filling in the blanks. With what seems to be the faint sound of bagpipes peeking through and a wave of double kicks, you can now see what is afoot. Perched precariously between techno and symphonic metal, "The Universe Expands (The Big Bang)" manages to provide many of the highlights of the EP, with the stretch around the four minute mark coming through beautifully. There are times when the mix seems sloppy, mostly due to overcrowding, but they are few and far between. The final track, a cover song of sorts, is a reimagining of the 1596 John Dowland piece "Flow My Tears." It is well crafted, with a voice that could move mountains in a single breath. Kortessa croons sweetly as lightly plucked guitars and even lighter drum beats are the only backing necessary.

I can hear it. Sometimes you have to turn your head just right, lean a little to the left, and strain your inner ear, but the sound is there. At it's best, "Keep Deep" is proof that dance and metal music can not only coexist, but thrive together. Lightbridge has found that plateau between the two that allows for them to mingle. This success, though, isn't as clean cut as you would think. The voice of his collaborator, Kortessa, does the lion's share on the EP, her tremendous range and tone driving the unity of the two styles in incredible ways. Without her contribution, it would be hard to say if this would be the same type of review. Either way, Dol Theeta has earned more study. With each subsequent release, they have a chance to further their journey, or throw everything they've done off a cliff to its doom. And that is the true danger here; there is no stability in this type of fusion. One track works, maybe the next doesn't. One EP sounds great, the next loses the magic. Trail blazing was never easy. But the path to dance and metal harmony is a rocky road.


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