Melodic death and doom metal band Dalit have released the physical version of their acclaimed 2021 release Moksha.
Back in 2016, I had my first exposure to Dalit, reviewing their sophomore release Descent, which I found myself enjoying despite my general dislike for doom metal. What struck me was the variety of influences that came through in their sound, making the tracks more enjoyable than the doom metal I had previously been exposed to. The band itself hails from Norway and formed in 2006 with a great mission statement of “striking the raw nerves of the listener with a portrait of the abused, oppressed and derelict souls”. Taking that into account, if fits well that their chosen genre is a combination of melodic doom and death metal, and one can see how that mission would fit nicely. For Moksha, the band produced the album which was mixed and mastered by Endre Kirkesola. Drums, guitars, bass and vocals were recorded by guitarist Jon Ivar Larsen with Simen Daniel Børven recording the violin.
A lonely piano opens the album, but that is quickly swallowed up by a slow, plodding, heavy doom guitar riff. Eirik Hellem’s rough, growled vocals come in shortly after and the listener quickly knows where the track is going until the quieter interlude with clean guitar straight out of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”. Guro Birkeli comes in to provide clean female vocals which contrast nicely with Hellem’s death metal growls.
“The Best of All Possible Worlds” continues in the same vein bringing raw, heavy riffs to the doom sound that accompanies Hellem’s growls and snarls. The layered guitar parts add depth to the overall sound, keeping the song from becoming predictable and some drum fills from Cato Gulaker further add to the variety. Add in some clean vocals with an Indian/Eastern feel and the song grabs ones attention.
“Starlight” starts from the beginning with a heavy, driving riff and the song picks up a bit of a groove that in no way lessens the heaviness and actually becomes one of the more memorable tracks on the album. Little touches within the song, where the guitars abruptly start/stop add complexity and the rhythm section of Gulaker and Hellem keep the song moving. “Anthem” continues with another track that relies on a bit of a groove and works well following “Starlight”. The restrained guitar leads in the track pair nicely with Hellem’s growled vocals and provide a haunting feel.
In contrast, “Hallways of Sadness” does come as a bit of letdown following the two stronger previous tracks. At this point in the album, I think I was looking for the groove to continue and it just isn’t there in the track. The two part “Red” opens up with clean female vocals and some crowd sounds accompanied by some clean guitar that conveys a sense of foreboding eventually setting the stage for the full band to come in. The setup is very effective and the background noise fades out for Red (pt. 2) as the song slows to more of a pounding crawl.
“Fra Jord til StØv” closes out the album and reverts to more of a plodding death/doom approach featuring some clean vocals along with Hellem’s growled ones, but the track itself does end rather abruptly and seemingly without warning, leaving the listener thinking there is more coming.
Overall, while not a new album, I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to review this when it was new. On first listen, I was a bit disappointed compared to what I remembered from the previous album Descent, but after more listens, my opinion changed and there is a lot to like on Moksha, everything from raw emotion to heavy doom riffs with a bit of groove thrown in for variety.
Written by John Jackon
- Sons of Adam, Daughters of Eve
- The Best of All Possible Worlds
- Hallways of Sadness
- Red (pt. 1)
- Red (pt. 2)
- Fra Jord til StØv
Cato Gulaker – Drums
Erlend Trengereid – Guitars
Jon Ivar Larsen – Guitars
Eirik Hellem – Vocals & Bass
Guro Birkelli – Vocals
Release Date: May 5th. 2023
Record Label: Nordic Mission (physical)
Weblinks: Facebook / BigCartel / Bandcamp
Video (audio) for ‘Hallways of Sadness’