Dyecrest has been up and about for quite a while now. By winning 2nd place in the competition of Young Metal Gods, the band was able to get a big record label deal, which helped them in publishing their very first album “The Way of Pain” early 2000s. The band then was asked to join W.A.S.P on tour as a support band. Things were looking up for Dyecrest, but then the band was put on hold for indefinite time… Until now. The band release their third album “Are You Not Entertained?” on 25 May through Inverse Records. An album which they claim in which they put their heart and soul into, they did the album for themselves, without the pressure having to do it for the career.
A couple of things have changed back then, the band for example found a new singer in Mikael Salo, whose work we can hear on 6 tracks of the album. Guest vocalists like Björn Strid (Soilwork) and Piet Sielck (Iron Saviour) accompany Salo on the other tracks. After my talk with Mikael and Niko, I was excited to dive deeper into listening to the album.
The album kicks off with “Fading/Reaching”, a song which already features Mikael Salo on vocals. The song starts with some atmospheric sounds first before it hits us in the face with distorted guitars and a drum intro, which then pushes us forward to the driving heavy and yet melodic riff of the song. The tempo then goes on in a fast-paced manner. Salo’s vocals from the start are very clear, strong and we instantly understand why he was chosen to be the singer. “Fading/Reaching” is one of the stronger tracks on the album, so already offers an immediate highlight to the listener.
“Red Alert” was the second single that Dyecrest released and is a duet between Björn Strid and Mikael Salo. It shows the heavier side of the album, with Strid’s typical brutal vocals. The choruses remind me of the catchiness of a System of a Down track, for some reason. I think the chorus definitely is the highest peak in the song and I caught myself many times during the days I’ve been listening to the album, humming it or singing it. Moreover, Björn Strid’s vocals blend in nicely with Mikael Salo. Perhaps it was an unexpected combination, but it definitely works.
A song that definitely shows the diversity in vocals is “The Stage is Set”. It shows that Mikael’s vocals can handle any part of the album, from very gritty vocals to super clean. A beautiful passage in the song is when the chorus gets sung softer, which follows up immediately after a solo and nice melodic keyboards. In general, the keyboards on this album are very strong. They offer a nice touch to all the songs and provide a more melodic approach to the record. For me however the strongest song on the album is the first single “First Born Angel”. This song just comes together, it blends perfectly, the choirs, heavy riffs, rhythms and the vocals. The chorus is very catchy and the song has a good chance of one day becoming a heavy metal classic of this era.
After a hit song like that, it’s no surprise that there is a small intermezzo to introduce the next song. “Breaking News” is kind of a comic relief, because it sounds like a nineties news report introduction video and comes quite unexpected. It then has a voice-over of a news presenter and then smoothly continues into “Are You Entertained?”, which is a heavy, almost aggressive, driven on riffs you get hooked up, all-in-all a song that will surprise you right away. No wonder the band chose this number as the (well not completely) title track of the album. “First Born Angel” together with “Are You Entertained?” is definitely a high peak in the album. After that massive explosion of energy, it’s only logical the band placed a song like “Where The Light Was Born” to play next, which starts off slowly with an acoustic guitar and Salo’s vocals. The soft interlude gets interrupted by the once in a while heavy distorted rhythmic guitar riffs, but they never take over the song. The song builds up and reaches a climax during the chorus.
Now, a different kind of climax in the album and certainly one of my favourites is “Nuku Vaan”. It’s the only song on the album that is in Finnish. The title might give it away, but it sounds like a lullaby. It’s also the only song where a woman is taking the lead, her voice is very enchanting, the glocken blends in smoothly with the rest of the song and adds an extra magical dimension to it, as well as the choirs and the violin. Everything is this song is perfect and beautiful. Tears are not strangers to me in melancholic songs, but this song definitely is able to release the waterfalls, as there is so much emotion in this masterfully crafted piece. So spoiler alert, if you’re a sensitive listener, you might want to get some tissues for yourself listening to this song. It gets so intense that you’re kind of afraid of what’s coming next, but luckily the band has chosen a song that starts off the same way, very softly, but then breaks the tension when the vocals kick in.
“Are You Not Entertained?” was a very good listen. As you will get more into the album, there seem to be hardly any filler tracks on it. All the 13 songs are equally strong. They will get you also addicted to them instantly. True, they’re pretty standard hard rock songs, with heavy riffs, driving rhythms and powerful vocals. In that sense, the music is a bit more traditional and doesn’t really have offer a new perspective on the hard rock genre. But within this traditional hard rock, the album stands strong. The fact that the vocals have been done by so many different vocalists, is not really that much of a downside for me as I previously feared. At first I was kind of worried that it would somehow feel like a concept was being forced into an album that doesn’t necessarily have a theme, but that’s not true at all. The songs are all very consistent and you can definitely hear the Dyecrest-stamp on them. So the fact that there is different singers, doesn’t matter because you can hear that it’s Dyecrest. A small problem I do have with the album is that the vocals are a bit set back in the mix. This may have something to do with the fact that Mikael Salo’s vocals were recorded after the whole album was already mixed and mastered, which especially becomes clear in the duet with Björn Strid. This is a bit unfortunate, especially keeping in mind how talented the vocalist is, but only a very small problem that might also depend on the speakers that I have, even though I have listened to the album with different devices. Other than that the production of the album is outstanding, the different elements blend in nicely and all the separate tracks are audible throughout the whole album. The band clearly exists out of professionals, there’s great riffs present, amazing and catchy melody lines and many of the songs will stick. So Dyecrest fans, being it old or new, you should definitely get this album on your shelf. Those who like hard rock and heavy metal with some kick-ass melodic elements, will definitely enjoy this album.
25 May 2018
Mikael Salo, Lead Vocals
Henri Arola: Guitar, Backing Vocals
Matti Pasanen: Guitar, Backing Vocals
Pirkka Ohlis: Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Jukka Matilainen: Bass
Niko Takala: Drums
2. Red alert
3. The stage is set
4. No fear
5. First born angel
6. Breaking news
7. Are you entertained?
8. Where the light was born
9. For the better (they will die)
10. Devil dance
11. Nuku vaan
13. The time has come