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The Longest Songs in Metal, Part Nine - 80%

Insin, February 1st, 2017

So far, all of the songs I have covered in this series have been of the progressive or doom metal vein. Neither crushing and impenetrable drone metal, nor hypnotic stoner music, nor often cheesy conceptual prog rock, characterizes The Dwelling. This is different, and I want to say that it remains within Sabbat’s typical style, a black/thrash metal hybrid, but that’s not completely true. While it certainly possesses overtones of the sound they’re known for, it’s simply metal that one could say transcends a more specific classification, twisted into an hour-long epic.

The Dwelling begins with a strong and epic introduction, but shortly thereafter loses some of its clarity. It’s difficult to tell where this song is going; it meanders rather than building, though this is more excusable when the meandering is interesting, which, in this case, it is. Generally, the flow is decent, but some transitions are illogical, sudden, and rough. They cause some more distinct sections to emerge, the a perfect example the switch at about twenty minutes that sounds like an entirely new song starting. Others are smoother — the first acoustic break back to a fast-paced metal solo is a quite dramatic yet natural change. All in all, they get the job done and move the song along in one way or another.

The album begins to take a more definite shape once it passes the halfway point, though it still twists and turns unconfidently. The finale seems to have all the makings of an epic ending, with a shredding solo, speed and aggression, a dramatic feeling, and repetition of the introduction. But the buildup leading to this section is not quite long or defined enough, there’s no reason that the end couldn’t have come ten minutes earlier or later.

The solos are among the highlights of the album, adding a more melodic counterbalance to the riffs that run beneath them. They pace themselves rather than devolving into a shred-fest, and repeat melodic phrases instead of changing constantly. However with the sheer amount of soloing, especially towards the end, it can get a bit monotonous and take on a more jam band feel.
The vocals are normally harsh-thrash with some downright ridiculous parts, where they take on a very King Diamond sound, and the “ALALALALA” scream at about 36 minutes. Sadly, The Melody of Death Mask is rather barren of keyboards; they lend the song some Burzum and Enslaved-like atmospheric ambiance during their rare appearances.

I’m unsure how to rate The Dwelling, perhaps because it’s hard to stack up against more “traditional” songs of length and the genres that tend to generate them. It manages to hold the attention, with enough variety to keep it interesting but not an excessive amount that creates a sense of disjoint. Despite its musical strengths — its fantastic and tasteful soloing, and its somewhat diverse array of sounds — structurally, it lacks the cohesiveness and the payoff that closes the best of long songs.

Nothing compares to this. NOTHING! - 100%

Wilytank, October 30th, 2011

(Originally posted by me to the Metal Music Archives:

There's something special about The Dwelling that sets it apart from other magnificent albums that I have listened to. For the longest time, I've considered this album my personal favorite album ever in heavy metal or in music in general. Sabbat have gone through four albums of awesome evil sounding black metal; and when round five comes along, they spring an hour long song at us. This would either be really awesome or a waste of time. Not only did The Dwelling fall into the former category, it went beyond awesome and made itself a very personal favorite of mine. Even any complaints I see about this song's length I consider shallow.

With such a lengthy song, there really is no proper way to listen to this album besides just hitting play and listening to the whole thing. The first few minutes start the song off slower with lead guitars and scary sounding vocals coming in after a bit. The production is perfect for a black metal album. It's not fine, yet it's not raw enough to make it totally sound like shit. This makes the song almost scary sounding. Before even entering the 3 minute section, the guitar breaks into tremolo riffing.

Sabbat have the good taste to keep things well varied in this piece. Only three minutes later, the tempo drops with the scary sounding ambient keyboards coming back into the background and a solo starting up. The tempo then speeds up while Temis continues his solo. It ends before the speedier section stops again; but when this section does end, the slow part before the solo comes back and his soloing starts up again. With that, a grand piano also comes into play eventually creating a auditory vortex of chaos as Temis's soloing, the piano, the bass drums, and Gezol's lyrical recital churns up the fires of hell stronger than they have ever done before.

However, we aren't even ten minutes into this beast! After the vortex ends, another tremolo riff signals the beginning another speedier section. When the slow it down again, they keep the ambiance and piano out of it and make it more of a mid-paced rhythmic section. It does acquire a scary tone around the 16:38 as it builds up to a slightly faster rhythm. In this faster rhythm, Gezol's clean lyrics are really haunting in sound. Once the lyrics end in this section, the rhythm slows down again with more frighting sounding musical section. Temis begins another lead with it going into another fast rhythm and Gezol's same haunting clean vox.

Finally we go into a totally new rhythm at 20:18. Gezol goes back into his black metal shouting/shrieking. After he's done with his vocal lines, the song speeds up with drums going into an almost blast-beat-like rhythm. This type of passage is repeated once. After the second time, a new rhythm comes in that soon slows down. Soon another, more mellow sounding, lead from Temis comes in with it eventually playing in melody with Gezol's bass. After a brief section of vocals and partial blast-beating drums, another lead comes in from Temis. This time it's less mellow and, when played with a blast-beating section, becomes really furious. Everything then culminates and builds up...

And then it all stops. Or rather it fades away to be replaced by acoustic guitar. We're just about halfway through the song at this point, and what better to celebrate the halfway mark than a haunting oriental sounding acoustic rhythm. This acoustic rhythm gets some accompaniment after a bit with a lead guitar playing with it as well as the bass and drums. The song speeds up again after the 31:30 mark with another lead from Temis. Then slows down with only the drums and acoustic guitar playing, followed by only electric guitar and bass.

This rather mellow section is finally ended at the 34:29 mark with a notably faster rhythm being played in tremolo and vocals soon coming back in. It eventually speeds up more with Gezol continuing his vocal lines eventually ending in "LAH-NAH-NAH-NAH-NAH-NAH!" This section is repeated with the same type of ending on the vocals. Then all instruments except bass. After a bit, the guitar, bass drum, and even the ambiance from earlier in the song come back in to buildup to a slow section of melodic playing on both guitar and bass. This instrumental section goes all the way up to the later end of the 41 minute section with the buildup returning to introduce a similar rhythm with different rhythm and no leading, but vocals do return. After one vocal passage, the leading begins again.

We're running out of time at this point with just a little more than 15 minutes left of the song. The rhythm stays mid-paced around here. When the vocals come in again, it sounds like Temis singing. His voice is distinctly higher than Gezol's. Though at one point, Temis's shouting and Gezol's lower haunting voice play through together. More sections of tempo changes and leads go in and out until Temis does another verse without ending in a duet with Gezol. The next run begins around the 49 minute mark. Gezol takes the lead vocal role once more with the music sticking to a mid-paced rhythm. Then, the music gets really fast with the guitar and bass playing together in a flying dual tremolo rhythm interrupted by the bopping on the grand piano. The flying dual lead and piano section are repeated again before mellowing out once more to a mid-paced rhythm. Gezol's vocals are recited in unison with Temis's lead before the lead totally takes control of the song. The lead continues on before returning to the original rhythm...

...and then we're back to the beginning? The rhythm is very much the same as the very beginning of the song. And you know what? What better way to end this? Closing vocal lines and lead guitar playing are gotten out of the way. Afterwards, the guitar plays some more notes by itself with bass and sparse percussion joining in a final push to close the song. The bass itself gets a little more prominent than the guitar even. The ambiance begins to fade back in with all the metal instruments still playing. Finally, the metal instruments all fade away leaving the dark ambient sounding keyboards to reflect upon the hour that just passed into the ears.

Wow. Just wow. Sabbat have seriously outdid themselves here. Gezol, Temis, and Zorugelion have played their respective instruments masterfully. Gezol's vocals are haunting and awesome as always, and his bass playing is inspirational as always. Temis's guitar prowess shines to it's maximum potential given all the room to do so. Zorugelion doesn't miss a beat on his drums, and he is the one who really signals the changes in the songs structure. The Dwelling to me is the greatest musical production in the history of music. Though there may be other albums that I give the 100% to, I still give this album much more praise; and every time I listen to another album that might get a 100% score from me, I ask my self "Is this better than The Dwelling?"

And the answer has always been "no."

The most incredible piece of music created - 100%

DreamTheater3, September 4th, 2011

I'm not one to give out perfect reviews easily. On some of my earlier reviews on other review sites I just threw around perfect ratings and overexaggerated the albums - they're still good albums, but I gave them too much credit. However, I believe I am completely justified in giving a 5 star rating to Sabbat's 1996 release, "The Dwelling", because it is quite possibly the most mindblowing creation a human mind can craft together and make it absolutely without flaws.

Sabbat are a Japanese black metal/thrash metal band formed in the 1980's. They have released many albums in the longrun, but only a few studio albums, one of them being this one.

It's funny, really. Black metal is probably one of my least favorite subgenres of metal music but this still manages to be THE, not one of, THE greatest song I've ever heard.

"The Dwelling" consists of one 59 minute and 48 second song called "The Melody of Death Mask". The lyrics of this song are typical black metal, following the story of a Hannibal Lecter-esque character who commits a string of murders to serve his purpose, in his own twisted mind, as an "artist". The riffs are melancholy and sorrowful and fit the lyrics perfectly, as well as Gezol's harsh vocals which are vicious but not too loud like with other black metal bands. The solos are viking-like and ooze with sorrow and beauty. The higher pitched vocals may sound ridiculous at first, but are a major attribute to the darkness of this album. The drums aren't essential to enjoying this album but at times they can be truly wonderful, like the drum rolls during the last 10 minutes or so.

The lyrics, while twisted, really bring out the imagination in the listener. There is some profanities thrown here and there, but it's not an all out F bomb fest like other black metal albums. Also, throughout some parts of the album the lyrics describe the killer's forsaken house with a "secret basement" which I found interesting. As one reviewer said, you could just simply mute any old horror movie and play "The Dwelling" in the background, and discover many horrors in the process.

As for highlights of the album, there is literally too many to name. EVERY riff and solo is good, and every melody delivers like no other. Some riffs might make you feel filthy or "sinful" given the low quality production, but that's all part of the experience.

The ending of "The Dwelling" is the greatest thing ever written. Not just in music - this climax to this song really is THE greatest thing my ears have had the pleasure of listening to. For every riff that leads up to the solo which leads to the same riff we didn't hear until the very beggining of the song, followed by the haunted, apocalyptic chanting which leads to the dripping sorrowful guitar which ends the song with the same sound as in the first few seconds, everything about it is simply chilling in it's melancholy intensity.

Finishing this album is like finishing a good book - you are unaware of your physical existence for a few seconds, because for the past few hours you're eyes have been locked to nothing but the text. The dazed state only takes a few seconds, and you look around you to make sure you're still in a physical state. Sure enough, you are.

That is exactly how this album will make you feel. The greatest song ever written. Listen to this now, and be completely swept away in it's sad, twisted, brutal and sorrowful hurricane of emotions which will guaranteed change the way you look at metal, or possibly even music in general. Hands down, one hundred percent, the greatest piece of artwork ever made.

Originally written for

Wow... just Wow... - 97%

Derfos, May 12th, 2010

I will start by saying that I came across this album with absolutely no knowledge of Sabbat other than 'they are a japanese black metal act'. About 5 minutes into The Dwelling, I tossed that label aside, since this album is too good to just be labeled. This band manages to achieve something that I am always looking out for in any album I get: A wonderful blend of the emotional side of music and the technical, guitar-oriented side of heavy metal. This is not an album you listen to, but rather an album you experience, and those are the ones that stick with you for years to come.

As I said before, until I heard The Dwelling, I was completely unfamiliar with Sabbat's sound, so I will make an attempt to describe it. The best way I can approach the music of Sabbat is by calling it Music, with a capital M. music, without capitalization, is a mix of instruments combined to create a certain sound. The Music I am talking about, capitalized, is an art form that flows and is intertwined with the instrumentation, but lives as an independent entity. When I listen to this album, I don't go 'those are some nice guitar riffs' or 'look at that thrash beat they threw in there', I listen to it as a whole, and in this case the whole is more than just the sum of its parts. Whether it is the sorrowful guitars, the original basslines, the creative but not over-the-top drumming, or those ever-evolving vocals, none of the individual elements can really sum up what their combination achieves.

I would also like to add that this is not your standard hour-long song. You can go and listen to Sleep's Dopesmoker and you will get a lot of droning repetitive riffs, and a song that could have easily been 20 minutes. With The Dwelling, the length is just right. It feels like watching a movie: the Music is constantly pushing itself forward, and there is never a dull moment. What you get instead is an album that keeps you on your toes, always willing to change and progress, never settling for a riff when there could be another in the horizon.

My recommendation then, is listen to this album. Listen to it if you like melodic pieces, listen to it if you like thrash. Listen to it if you like long songs, but also if you like the short ones (you might be surprised). Just listen to the album, cause I promise it will be worth your time.

Harmonies from the inferno - 100%

autothrall, January 13th, 2010

The Dwelling is an anomaly amidst the massive discography that is Sabbat's career; a single, hour long composition that weaves a solitary tale of horror. It's an outstanding achievement for an already impressive band, and it remains my single favorite album from these Japanese deviants. The tale itself is not quite a masterpiece, but it manages to include just about every occult metal meme needed: witches, rituals, damnation, you name it, the song covers it.

'I'm a collecter of Death mask,
The greatest artist
MY sinful creation which is not created by god's,
But sometimes you gaze into me, laughing into me,
Harmonies from the inferno,
Melodies from hell to hell'

"The Dwelling - The Melody of the Death Mask" is a long trip into the shadows of classic horror, given breath by the piecemeal Engrish of Gezol's inner demons. The use of piano and multiple vocals is one of the few traits that distinguishes it from their other work, but much of the album is traditional, black thrashing speed akin the band's other full length albums. Aside from the grating snarls of Gezol's, there are all manner of ghostly voices, which at first might seem silly, but actually imbue the work with a great deal of character (and a little Mercyful Fate-King Diamond eeriness). The album is loaded with great riffs, haunting atmospheric elements, and quality leads, but to point out specific locations would rob you of listening through in its entirety, so I'm not going there. But the album ranges from the momentum of the band's faster speed metal style, to a traditional doom and gloom.

This is the perfect album for a colder autumn night, sitting in your chalk pentagram with a cup of aromatic tea, candles lit about you, a breeze slowly fanning their flames, perhaps naked, perhaps naked with a beautiful girl (or guy). You can take almost any old horror film, silent or not, turn off the volume, and play The Dwelling instead. You will discover many terrors in the subtext. It is one of the albums I most associate with personal nostalgia for the Halloween season, and the most depth you are likely to ever experience from Sabbat.


Dwelling in the Devil’s Lair - 95%

Evil_Johnny_666, May 19th, 2009

By now, not including their first five eps, all four Sabbat albums were of a more or less consistent style. They played a sort of black thrash metal breed, losing some of the thrash elements along the way, adjusting their sound to a more black metal sounding one, while refining their thrashiness with a more researched and original riffing, their leads gaining a more "oriental occult" sound - and which I would call the "sabbatical sound" along some other hard to describe particularities in the riffing. They also ventured in doom metal territory at times among other styles, or played merely nods to those genres and worked on finding an identity within their vocal deliveries. With Disembody, Gezol established his own vocal style which he would use up to this album, keeping some particularities for a couple of songs from subsequent alums, while Temis mostly kept his style intact. While with Disembody Sabbat would have found a more unique and sabbatical sound than their first two albums - which are still really good and unique in their own way - Fetishism portrayed a band trying to evolve their sound further, making it sound a lot more malevolent and evil, while reaching several metal sub-genres and at the same time refining their sabbatical edge in their sound that would make them recognizable even if a good number of their albums or eps are quite distinct. With the album at hand, The Dwelling, Sabbat dared defying the norm. Probably getting the idea from Venom's At War With Satan, since they were a big influence for them, Sabbat thought of going further down the path of Venom's experimentation with progressiveness. Not only by releasing a whole 12" side as one track, but by composing such song that would need the surface of 4 sides of analog grooves. Well, it lasts long enough for needing one more vinyl not by a long shot - the song is almost 60 minutes long - but still, its success solely depends on the higher songwriting skills veteran musicians would possess. Some moments of the preceding album showed Sabbat could considerate the ambitious idea of such enterprise.

Most songs of that length have several distinct parts, of which could be considered as songs or tracks for a more convenient listen to a casual listener, but are recognizable as one work which usually have as a particularity a more progressive sound and recurring melodies unifying the musical piece. With The Dwelling, Sabbat proved they were up to the challenge of not only making one more progressive, coherent and unified song, but a most enjoyable one. Due to its nature, it is a release quite hard to grasp on its first spins; you can't chose one particular part, there are no real verse/chorus/verse/chorus foundations as the length can be a turn-off and make it become some sort of background music if you lose concentration. The Dwelling can't be more of a grower, sure;y you'll find some ass-kicking moment on your first listen, but only after giving it much time will you be able to truly appreciate this masterpiece.

First of all, if you could find words such as black or thrash describing any Sabbat material, here The Dwelling really goes beyond genre classification. Sure there's some thrashing moments, more black metal sounding ones or doomy at times too, but others are definitely to analyze, as a whole it just sounds like... metal. The aforementioned sabbatical sound is all over the place; a lot of melodic, single string bending is present in the lead work with some rather inventive and odd rhythms they may create. The song often changes pace, mood or almost gives place to silence only to come back with a twist. If Temis' riffing is nothing but stellar, Zorugelion's drum work is worth praising too. He mostly is always inventive but he surpasses himself here, though he's not coma inducing during the whole length, there are clearly some moments of brilliance scattered across the lp helped by some original use of cymbals and toms. Gezol's bass lines are really good, sometimes playing the same riff as the guitar, sometimes acting as a second guitar appropriately supporting it with complementary rhythms. Speaking of the string instruments, there is a little change in mixing here compared to previous Sabbat albums - which its main particularity being used for the Harmageddon eps. Nothing is layered, there is only one guitar recorded except during solos and some leads and each of them are played at higher volume in different channels, the bass being the left one and the guitar the right one. It may sound like a problem, but I hardly noticed until I got into the album more deeply. As for the vocals, they are still shared by Temis and Gezol, but they are experimenting a little and their usual performance isn't completely identical to Fetishism. Gezol's vocals are less throaty and he may go for stranger, more over the top screaming as Temis would do some unusual, more melodic high pitched vocals and some other vocal effects would be appropriately used such as whispers. They both sing at the same time in some moments, and know how to complement each other, it could be compared to twin guitar leads.

But back to the songwriting, like I said, The Dwelling is a release hard to classify in any particular metal genre and it sounds unlike anything Sabbat ever released, though it does really sound progressive. It can be rather hard to imagine them being progressive considering their previous releases, but as with At War With Satan, it clearly sounds like it's the same band playing, though a lot less here. The overall atmosphere is a lot less dark and malevolent than on the previous album, but it still sounds evil at times and it reaches paths less explored like more desperate, melancholic or mysterious moods. Some kind of buzzing eerie keyboards are also used across the lp, giving a feel no Sabbat song ever conveyed some acoustic guitar is also played to good effect. Beside all that, what is really interesting, is the recurring melodies, riffs or parts. There's even a moment where during one of those already played a while back riff, one of Temis' many tasteful solos is played on top of it, creating some most epic feel. And about the overall evolution of the album, some parts could be considered as small songs, but they are kept to a short length and don't really feel like a complete song. And sometimes it almost seems as one song finishes and another one starts, but everything is constructing in such a way that it reminds you that you are still listening to the same song. The guys clearly didn't lack inspiration as it is really well written and they don’t give you time to let your interest down. Also, it's some kind of concept album, one about the twisted story/genesis of a so-called "mask" hunter - read: he likes to chops heads and collect them for the different expressions of terror they may have impregnated on them, using them for "sinful and artful purposes". Interesting - and macabre - enough, but you won't be able to make out any of the lyrics if you don't have them on sight.

The Dwelling is a complete success, Sabbat proved to be on par with their ambition and helped them paving a path to reach new grounds with their trademark sound. The album is progressive, epic, adventurous, defying anyone who might question the force that the mighty Sabbat is. They really put Venom's output down to a as merely a really long song; it's so good, that it puts some pure progressive metal bands to shame. This is art, a true testament to their talent, perseverance and passion.