Thanasis Lightbridge's troupe of outer space explorers is back with their sophomore album, "Ocean Dynamics". A bit of background: DOL AMMAD comes from Greece, it is the brainchild of mr. Lightbridge and it fuses Electronic music, Opera & Heavy Metal. Armed with a 14 person choir this time around (7 men and 7 women), "Ocean Dynamics" picks up where their previous album, "Star Tales" left off, with much improvement on all fronts.
The band name comes from the computer game Descent 3. Why is this little tidbit of information relevant? Well, in my review for "Star Tales" I mentioned that this sounded a bit like video game music, which coming from me, is a complement. "Ocean Tales" still has that quality to the music.
Improvement is shown all across the board, starting with the production. Music that combines many different elements and genres, like electronic samples, strings and/or choir on top of the conventional guitars/drums/bass combo of Metal or Rock absolutely needs to have professional production, which was lacking on "Star Tales", but in "Ocean Dynamics", all the instruments, samples and vocals (operatic & sung) form a unified whole, with all the elements fitting each other perfectly.
The band labels itself "Electronic Art Metal", which is pretty fitting. There are tons and tons of electronic samples on the record, may it be synthesizers simulating various instruments, or just sound effects to enhance the mood of a certain section of the song. The use of keyboards as a main source of melody further gives DOL AMMAD an Electronica feel. The choir performs very well, and at times, even decipherable. I'm not sure of the criteria to judge a choir, but they sound very good to my ears. They get the Metal tag because the Electronica and Operatic elements get thrown into a melting pot with Metal being the main focus. There is the backbone of heavy guitars, driving bass and pounding drums holding all of this together.
The biggest improvement is in the song quality. Well structured but unpredictable, the songs are full of richness, texture, melody & subtleties. Be it a driving guitar riff, or a more soothing synthesizer, the focus is driving the song forward and taking it through many different moods, while still incorporating the three styles of music described above.
No, this music is not for everyone, and it needs a few listens to fully digest. It's not all that heavy, it has a lot of Techno elements, a choir, and is very free in structure, amongst other things. Many of these facts can turn a lot of people off DOL AMMAD, so I suggest you approach this record with an open mind, and not write it off the second you hear it.
Worth checking out, but be patient! It sinks in after a few tries.
(Online December 22, 2006)