Dialith - Extinction Six - (9.5/10)
Published on July 22, 2019
Life defies all odds and flourishes again!
Lately I noticed that I can enjoy pretty much any sub-genre of metal as long as it’s done right but I still have some genres I easily click with and others that rarely get to me. Power metal is pretty far down my list of preferences and I rarely stumble over something in this genre that I can really get into. Expectations weren’t really high but the universe had another thing coming for me because the new debut album “Extinction Six” from symphonic power metallers Dialith is bloody masterful in every possible way! Maybe it really stands out a lot from the genre or maybe I just don’t know what I like anymore. Either way, let’s dive into it and see what makes it this good.
For starters, this isn’t exactly your everyday slaying dragons power metal style but it takes a very symphonic approach, more similar to the likes of Epica or Ancient Bards, which I’m considerably more keen on than the classic power metal sound. The intro got me hooked instantly, reminding quite strongly of Epica’s latest couple of albums and putting the band’s full orchestral soundscape on display, growing bit by bit with additional layers and creating a sense of anticipation and curiosity for what might be coming next. Though the orchestration in this album is most likely composed of samples, it feels very much like a living and breathing symphonic ensemble with strings, choirs, wind instruments, percussion and the whole shebang.
So that’s a way to get hyped before the band even kicks in. As the intro seamlessly flows into the first track ” The Sound of Your Voice” you can already tell from the smooth transition between tracks and the high quality sound that this is gonna be special. The song-writing here is very much power metal presenting fast tempo dynamic and impactful riffs with a ton of bombastic groove, flashy over the top solos and glorious catchy chorus lines. But it doesn’t rely solely on these elements, occasionally stepping out of the pattern to make the whole thing a lot more interesting and a bit more unpredictable. The music itself as well as the way it is delivered also feels really mature. That results in over a dozen moments throughout the album where I thought according to every law of the universe this should be cheesy, but it isn’t. It’s cohesive, fluid, intelligent and even intelectually challenging, becoming far more than an album made for fun. It reeks of professionalism and high quality musicianship at every corner.
The virtuosity in the solos from Alasdair Wallace Mackie (guitar) and Charles Woodruff (keyboard) is always present, touching on neo-classical shred style in the vein of Yngwie Malmsteen or Michael Romeo but apart from the solos themselves there’s also a frenzy of lead melodies and brief snippets or licks that burst out of the blue. They also throw in surprise moments like stand-out bass and drum moments (see “Where Fire Dwells”), seamlessly introduced soft symphonic passages and a brilliant use of spanish flamenco style guitar in the song “Libra”. Also the variety of keyboard, piano and orchestral sounds means almost every song has something slightly different to throw at you and is given a bit of a unique flavor. The band obviously takes a lot of influence from classical music and film score to create their symphonic sound and make the album feel cinematic and evolutionary, as if it’s going through different phases. And I only wish that was the end of it but I’m glad to say there’s even a melodic death metal side with headbanging patterns and a bit of Arch Ememy style riffs (“Quiver of Deception” reminded me of Arch Enemy’s Ravenous) plus a use of orchestra hits reminiscent of Children of Bodom. But in the end, Dialith is certainly not a copy of any other band and their music peaks on higher grounds than generic repetitive melo-death, straightforward power metal, or Nightwish wannabe symphonic metal.
Now I don’t want you to think that “Extinction Six” is all about breaking patterns. Oftentimes it’s quite generic and can be viewed as a fun and easy listen but it is in no way limited to that. As far as the emotional content goes, this album will expand from uplifting energetic choruses to soothing moments of peace, mystical fantasy sort of vibes and even drama, taking a darker and slightly menacing tone. The melodies they come up with on vocals, keys or guitar are always inspired and simply beautiful, allowing the intended sensation to easily come through.
And that gets us to the vocals and once again the professionalism is undeniable. Singer Krista Sion is obviously very gifted but this kind of performance doesn’t come around without a ton of practice. It’s remarkable that while maintaining a soft, silky vocal tone she can add so much life and grandeur to the songs. She often reaches an operatic style but also returns to lower and more mid-range notes, creating a feeling of ups and downs. “The River Runs Dry” and “The Wraith” are the two ballads in the album and the most vocal oriented songs, showcasing her most impressive delivery of emotion. “The Wraith” also has an incredible part of layered harmonized vocals in different registers that, when merged with the orchestral background, creates a surreal and hypnotizing ambience.
It’s also incredibly well produced to sound crisp and clean but also alive and organic, not too over processed. It’s not perfect and I did feel that from time to time the vocals were pushed forward slightly too much, overpowering the orchestral background. But that’s a minor glitch that most listeners will barely even bother to notice because when hearing everything at once, it can get genuinely epic and somehow liberating and fresh!
Despite all this, I did still feel like it got a bit too much of the same and if it were to keep it in the same vein for the whole one hour run time, it would get slightly redundant. After all despite the details and stand out moments, they are all still power metal songs at the core. But after 10 songs they shift gears into the 17 minute long title track. There’s a great concept here about the sixth mass extinction on Earth, which is already happening as a result of human activity on the planet. The opera approach to this track in four acts following an unusual timeline of the story is what got me completely sold. The intro is a glimpse into the grim aftermath of humanity’s existence after which the song rewinds and through the second and third act presents our existence with both positive and negative traits culminating in this global catastrophic event where nearly all life is extinguished. Then the finale sees life starting to bloom again in a cinematic symphonic ending before a delicate bird’s song draws the curtain call. To be honest, I don’t think this album is perfect. It has its quirks but overall, the maturity in composition and interpretation as well as the message behind the music are all exquisitely delivered. Guess I’ll start listening to power metal now, or better yet, give up sorting music by genre altogether. If you like power metal listen to this album and if you don’t… well… listen to this album.