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Album Review: Dopelord – Children of the Haze

It technically wouldn’t be unjustified to brand Dopelord as another Electric Wizard or Sleep acolyte, cut from the same cloth as groups like Cough and Dopethrone. The influence is certainly apparent on the Polish quartet’s third full-length, especially during the first three songs. The riffs are an oppressive bottom-end barrage, the tempos are large and drawn out, and the lyrics packed with misanthropic occultism occasionally backed by appropriate movie samples. The usage of harsher vocals on “Scum Priest” even made me wonder if I had somehow put on Dopethrone’s 2015 effort Hochlaga by mistake.

But while many would-be Wizards succeed at capturing that classic heaviness, Dopelord also hasn’t forgotten the fact that Electric Wizard’s biggest staples tended to be pretty damn catchy. The songs lengths are dynamic enough to avoid overstaying their welcome, and while the vocal lines are pretty simple, the production gives them clarity and they manage to be just as memorable as the riffs, if not more so. “Navigator” starts things off pretty smoothly but the title track may be the first half’s standout  for its building, chanted refrain.

Children of the Haze is also brought up by its more varied second half. “Skulls and Candles” (I keep wanting to call it “Skulls and Candies”) offers some melodic psychedelia as it builds up to the appropriately melancholic “Dead Inside (I & II),” the “II” part most likely in reference to the more up-tempo climax. From there, the album closes out with what may be its memorable track, as “Reptile Sun” features an aggressive punk-inspired intro, driving verses, and a chorus that is guaranteed to dig its way into your head.

Dopelord’s third album airs its aspirations without hesitation and shows enough confidence and chemistry in their riff craft to blow most of their competitors out of the water. The riffs are heavy, but the care taken in the songwriting is what makes this an album worth coming back to, even if you know exactly what it’s doing. In an era where every band seems to be imitating somebody else, you can at least be thankful for the fact that some of them are pretty damn good at what they do.

“Children of the Haze”
“Skulls and Candles”
“Reptile Sun”

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