Monday, April 11, 2011

Dotma - Sleep Paralyses (2011)

In the world of metal, one flooded with sub genre upon sub genre, no band wants to merely fit in. There is the ever present desire to stand out, to emerge from the tapestry. "Sleep Paralyses," the debut album from Finnish female fronted fantasy metal hopefuls Dotma, is ripe with all the elements of a fairy tale. With each note, each keystroke, each drum fill, this looks more like a dream come true than a tall tale.

Layered guitars and keyboards provide a fitting introduction to an atmospheric opening track, titled "Legend Of Blackbird." Frontwoman Johanna Lesonen has a voice that is both assertive, yet delicate. She is capable of strong, over the top vocals, but can also exercise subtlety when necessary. Beautifully played keyboards accent what is a drum heavy track, with double kicks scattered throughout. Epic and well constructed, all in the span of a short five minutes.

"Reborn" is an example of operatic metal done to perfection. Both female and male vocals, delivered with strength and conviction, backed by a choir of 5, which could pass for a group of 20. Crystal clear, each vocal passage feels like an act at The Met. The guitar work deserves mention, taking center stage at opportune moments. It is not overbearing, but rather becomes the backbone of the composition. "Silent Sunshine" sees a pair of solos, delivered with magnificent accuracy and depth. Ghostly keyboards set the tone, as if they are the canvas which the track will be painted to.

Things slow down in an soft acoustic tune, the flute powered "Indian Fall." Lesonen has the spotlight on this one, with extra layers being added as the track progresses. Each time the drums build, you wait for the heavy explosion, one that does not arrive fully until the closing. With a somewhat ironic title, "Whispering" is a symphony of guitar, bass, keyboards and drums, weaving in and out of one another, dancing alonside a powerful vocal addition.

Strings lead in to what is definitely a track on the folk end of their spectrum, "The Cave." Double time chugging and cymbals give way to keyboard induced horns. Storytelling is at its best here, with a spoken passage delivered at the midpoint. It is culminated by the grandest of illusions. The keyboards deliver the sound of delicate strings and bells, which become the launching pad for a well timed guitar solo.

The uptempo "Kingdom Of The Sky" is an epic masterpiece. The well oiled machine that is Dotma shines in all aspects, with a performance that would bring any opera house to its feet. Flexing their musical muscles, they create a backdrop that is as sonically stunning as can be, with seemingly endless layers of instrumentation and choir style vocals. To dissect each piece would take days. The albums epilogue, "Memory Worth Dying For" is the perfect closing act. It remains gentle, but all the while forceful.

As the curtain comes down on "Sleep Paralyses," the crowd while rise to their feet. While the play has ended, this journey is far from over. This is more than a thread in the tapestry of metal. When you consider that an album of this quality, this potential is merely a debut offering, you can be certain there is more ahead. And it will only get better from here. All that is left is to take a bow.


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