Five years after they released their beloved debut album “Ah Puch”, Dirge returned in March with their much awaited second album; a self-titled effort that indicates a shift in their songwriting and composition, elevating their music to newer, bolder avenues. Everything from the artwork, titled “The Rings Of Crises”, done by Gaurav Basu- to the soundscapes on this album reek of a certain kind of labyrinth-like gloom that is evenly supplemented with a dreamlike, or should I say nightmarish, sensibility. As the band themselves stated, it is meant to take the listener on a journey of self-actualization, and boy have they done justice to this statement.
Influenced by the likes of Acid Bath, Neurosis, Candlemass, Amenra, Eyehategod, ISIS, and Black Sabbath, the songs are long and drawn out jams with a dark psychedelic edge, with clouds of sludgy distortion being paired with soft and sublime harmonies. The rhythm section, comprising Harshad Bhagwat on bass and Aryaman Chatterji on drums have done a splendid job in creating the space to enhance the intricate dual guitar parts of Ashish Dharkar and Varun Patil. They don’t try too hard and stick to the basics of what doom/post metal bands do best; provide a steady and throbbing backbeat to add weight to the drop tuned guitar riffs. Add the despair filled lyrics encapsulating eerie imagery, and the agonizing screams of Tabish Khidir to the mix, and you’re left with an almost film-like score; a perfect soundtrack for anything to do with psychological thriller/horror. This is what stands out the most to me about this album i.e. the many shifts in one’s moods that the band has tried to capture, doing it seamlessly with a sleek touch. One moment you feel like you’re floating into nothingness, the very next you come crashing down to reality. Few bands manage to do this without overcomplicating things and sounding jarring and Dirge are definitely not one among them.
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic affected the writing on this album, at least partly. With most of the album already finished the band utilized the time to refine the songs a lot more, adding textural layers and creating an expansive and haunting atmospheric dreamscape.
“Creating this album has been a very cathartic experience for all of us since the topics we’ve talked about are very personal” says the group, and were more than glad to have this album out and hit the road in March this year to promote it across the country. “We’re really satisfied with how it finally sounds and now playing it live in its entirety feels really special”; there is no doubt that fans feel the same way and are now more than eager to see what more they have to offer in the future.
Dirge have come a long way from when they started in 2014, and this album serves as a testament of their coming of age. “Stay true to your art and never compromise on your vision. It’s fine if things take time, you have got to be patient with yourself, trust the process and keep at it!” is what they have to say to their younger contemporaries (or older, ha), and I have no doubt at all that their music and message shall continue to resonate with metal fans all over the globe for generations to come.
Best song(s): Grief, Hollow