Review: Dopelord - Magick Rites
The Embodiment Of Stoner Metal Stereotypes
Dopelord sound pretty much how you'd expect a band of that name to sound like. The band is kind of like a b-grade horror movie - it's a bit cheesy, you know what to expect, but it's still a bit entertaining (if only because you're into that aesthetic). All of Dopelord's music is taken from the norms of the stoner rock/metal scene. The fuzzy, often bouncy riffs, the drugged-out hazy vocals, the long repetitive song structures - Dopelord are by no means pushing any boundaries or exploring new territory. They embody the stereotypes of stoner metal.
On the stoner rock/metal spectrum, the riffs, although heavier than usual, generally fall on the rock side. The songwriting and structure adheres more closely to the stoner metal aesthetic. Saying the riffs are entirely rock based is wrong, there are quite a few examples of slow, somewhat sludgy riffing. However, many riffs and licks fall under a more catchy rock banner. A good number of these riffs, although extremely typical, are very well done. This band certainly has a knack for churning out catchy guitar parts.
While Dopelord are very talented with orthodox stoner guitar work, their songwriting chops seem to have been lost in the haze. While not overtly monotonous, the songwriting isn't paid much attention to. What makes stoner metal songs like Electric Wizard's "Dopethrone" so amazing is that while it's comatose, crushing atmosphere is a dominating force, they wrote the shit out of that song - if it was stripped down to a basic rock song it would still be killer. It contains both style and substance. While it wouldn't be accurate to say that substance is completely lacking from Dopelord, it is much lower in the mix in comparison to style.
They have the stoner sound down and they stick to it. A vague blues element, a mild dose of psychedelia, a critical dose of fuzz and a whole lot of stonerisms ooze their way into Dopelord's sound. They know their style and they don't wander into unknown territories. The only part of this album that wanders down a different path, although in the same woods, is the hidden track. Not particularly heavy, the song is pure psychedelia. Backed by acoustic chords, the track perfectly captures a blissed-out melting in the sun vibe. The drugged, murky vocals are a very important part of the band's sound. While putting them in the background is an essential part of achieving that hazy sound they're going for, sometimes (especially on "Ghost Cargo From The Bong") they are a little too low in the mix for everything to sound right. As this album is very samey, perhaps it could have been shortened by a track. However, if your in the right mood for their music, this is not a big problem.
While this album may be completely derivative, it's hard not to like it - if only just a bit. Sure, it doesn't add anything new to the genre, but that isn't to say they don't do a good job playing it. If the stoner sound is your niche, there is nothing to dislike about it. True, the songwriting could use a bit of an improvement, but this is hardly a hindrance to enjoying these fuzzy, narcotic-laden soundscapes. These guys exemplify many stereotypes of the stoner sound, everything from Electric Wizard (who are probably Dopelord's biggest influence, which should be obvious given the name) to Nebula is apparent as an influence. If your in the mood for some orthodox (albeit well executed) stoner metal, a little Dopelord should get the job done.