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Dies Irae - Sculpture of Stone - 85%

tomcat_ha, November 22nd, 2009

Dies Irae – Sculpture of Stone

Dies Irae from Poland. Not the most well known band from that scene. Half surprising considering its line up consisting of (now) former Vader, Decapitated and various members who are known for their other bands/projects. The reason seems to be because this band has been sort of treated as a side project by Mauser, the last remaining founding member, and absolutely not because of the musical quality as i will explain later on.

The evolution of this band has been fairly standard with their debut album being the most straightforward albeit very competent typically yet unique Polish styled band to an band which evolved their own sound and just became better and different. Allot of comparisons are being made with Vader for this band. Saying that there are no resemblances would be a lie. The band has allot of similar sounding elements but i think that doesn't lie in the fact that they are copying stuff from Vader but because there were 2 now former Vader members(Mauser and Doc) in the band but the 2nd guitarist is mostly known for his work with Sceptic and definitely ads his own touch especially soloing wise.

Of course an album is made by its instrumentation and not by the art and lyrical theme and usually are just extra's which rarely enhance the rest but i think its still important mentioning them in a review especially if you are interested in buying the album. If you do not care about these however you can skip the following 2 paragraphs.

The art of the album is fairly standard non gore based death metal album art. The front has some CGI art of 3 sculptures in stone. The back has a picture of the entire band. In the booklet itself there are shots of every band member. There are also some skulls, gargoyles, a roman/Greek statue head and some Latin in the booklet. All art is pretty much gray. Really nothing exceptional thus art wise.

The lyrics are fairly good despite some engrish. The lyrical themes vary from what seems to be in order for the songs: Lovecraftian, werewolves, death, birth and rebirth of the universe with a anti christian/religious touch, misanthropy, anti-life, death again, about the beginning of sin and finally about the passage of time. The lyrics are thus fairly varied. Novy the bassist/vocalist doesn't pronounce them very clearly and the lyrics are thus not very understandable but if you can still understand them well, they are easily good enough to not cause any annoyance.

Guitarmanship wise this album is very solid but not exceptional. The riffs have allot of palm muting and are somewhat technical. Id say the riffing is a mix between Decapitated and thrashless Vader and are quite excellent. There is some lead work in here but usually there are solos instead of having any lead guitars. The solos are well done and add to the overall experience. The guitar tone is quite clean but not sterile and fits well with the other musical elements and is fairly powerful.

The bass is in the background but is competently played and is cleaner in sound than the guitars. My preference would be that the bass would have been more in the foreground mixing wise and with a somewhat dirtier sound but as it works it works quite well none the less and certainly adds to making this album heavy.

Doc again provides very well competent drumming. Blasts when it fits double basses when it fits and the fills are all well done and again also played when they fit. The drumming other than that is fairly standard and could have been more exciting and less standard but it does work very well with the other instruments.

Vocal wise this band is maybe the most unique. Novy has a really unique sort of slowish drawn out growl and at times sounds absolutely brilliant for example on the track The Beginning of Sin. The tone of the growls are mostly in the mid-low end of the spectrum with some higher growls at some places. The vocals are maybe the best part of the album and are mixed and produced basically perfectly.

A band with excellent individual instruments can still be a bad/boring overall product and luckily Dies Irae's Sculpture of Stone does not suffer from this at all. All songs here are of good quality with everything working well together to create good somewhat technical Polish death metal. There are a couple of standout tracks, namely Beyond all Dimensions, The Art of an Endless Creation, The Beginning of Sin and Sculpture of Stone. With The Beginning of Sin being my overall favorite track. The other songs although also well done don't strike me as much as those 4 tracks i just mentioned.

In the end id say this album is very well made were the individual parts except the vocals are not very amazing but make each other better. The vocals are excellent regardless of the rest of the album. This album's biggest downside is that it isn't really anything new, if this album was released when the Polish death metal scene just came into being it would have been hailed as a classic now. For me it is a classic, this is the album that got me into full fledged death metal. I'm very glad i found this album instead of the Mexican melodic death band of the same name and with almost the same album name and as i look at it with the eyes from a new death metal fan i can look at this album for what it is individually and not as a release from a genre that when this album was released was already over 15 years old.

In the end I'm giving it a score of 85%. It doesn't get the full 100% because it is nothing really innovating. However it is a release that every death metal fan should have in at least some form.