In the ‘post-genre’ era of music, where information age artists fuse subgenres and trends with alchemical ease, new releases that rigorously stick to a specific sound can go either one of two ways.
They can seem dated, stubbornly refusing to accept the brave new reality, or they can completely hit the nail on their respective subgenres’ head. Dopelord‘s ‘Sign Of The Devil’ falls firmly in the latter camp.
Stoner metal owes everything to Black Sabbath, and Dopelord are no exception. One glance at ‘Sign Of The Devil’ reveals as much; thick tones, bluesy solos, and titles like ‘Hail Satan’ tell you immediately where their influences lie. It’s hard to think of another artist whose sound and aesthetic has been emulated as much as Sabbath‘s, and bands like Dopelord seem to find endless new crevices within the Birmingham legends’ back catalogue to mine riffs and textures from.
The only difference here is there are no ‘Paranoid’-esque three minute anthems. The six tracks (bar one) on ‘Sign Of The Devil’ take their time, crawling into your ear like a demon through a lake of sulphur. The wonderfully titled ‘Doom Bastards’ falls just shy of the ten minute mark, with an introduction of spacey leads that give way as we are pulled down into hell through its closing phases. ‘Hail Satan’ contains the best riffs; groovy and blues-y monsters that conjure head bangs as if reciting from a book of spells.
Only on punk-y closer ‘Headless Decapitator’ does the band truly pick up the pace. It proves a smart move from Dopelord to end the album with a minute and a half rager where most bands would have stuck their longest and most ponderous track. It shows that the band prioritise joy and not taking themselves seriously over staking some claim as grand wizards of the stoner church.
The album plays out as surprisingly lean for a band that writes such murky, weighty music. The songs are well structured and each one feels individual enough to remain lodged in the most toasted of memory banks. ‘World Beneath Us’ is the least memorable cut, but even that’s redeemed by some strong vocals and a great solo. Any longer and the album might’ve started to wear out its welcome, fortunately Dopelord consistently make all the right decisions.
‘Sign Of The Devil’ won’t change the world, it’s made for people who love the stoner subgenre by people who live, breathe, and smoke it. It’ll inspire you to blaze up and hail Satan, and you get the impression that that’s all Dopelord want.