Dol Ammad - _Ocean Dynamics_
(Electronicartmetal Records, 2006)
by: Kostas Sarampalis (7 out of 10)
There are plenty of operatic metal bands out there, but Greece's Dol Ammand can easily climb atop the masses, if only by the extravagance of their line-up. Boasting no less than nineteen members, there are plenty of tenors, bass, altos and sopranos in the assembly, all performing over what the band dubs as synthesiser lead aquatic magic. Or electronic art metal. Whatever the label and however over the top or within your musical tastes, I have to admit that they more or less achieve what they are aiming for.

The band is the brainchild of Thanasis Lightbridge, who is the keysmaster and writes the music, which is heavily keyboard based. Think of a much lighter Therion, combined with some hints of Jean Michel Jarre and Greece's own artist Spanoudakis. The great difficulty in these sort of fusion projects is managing to combine the electronica with the electric parts of the puzzle, successfully soldering everything with the vocals. In that, Dol Ammad mostly succeed, but there are awkward moments as well as bits and pieces that could have been done better.

Starting off with a song that essentially spans four tracks and is aptly named "Thalassa Dominion" (dominion of the sea), Dol Ammand show all their facets in one go. Mellow keyboard passages eventually merge with rather thin drumming (surprisingly performed by Alex Holzwarth, of Rhapsody and Avantasia fame) and even thinner electric guitars. There are no lead vocals, the choir's performance actually being the vocals for the album, and with pleasantly good results. Compare this to Therion's insistence on harsh vocals in their latest releases, which do not fit the music, and I prefer Dol Ammad's approach; at least there is consistency in the result. The rest of the tracks vary their tempo, but always stay within the water theme quite nicely.

If I have one main criticism, that is the heavy metal side of the band, which seems as an afterthought rather than properly integrated with the electronics. The guitars (and the drums, to a much lesser extend) sound very thin and they do not seem to offer anything particular to the sound of the album.

What I thought would be a rather uninteresting album, _Ocean Dynamics_ succeeded in drawing my attention to further listen and explore it. The choir works great and does not overload the music, despite the number of members. There is certainly room for improvement, especially in the production and mastering of the sound the band is striving for, but in a sea (pun intended) of mediocre releases in this type of music, Dol Ammad seem to have a bright future ahead of them.


(article published 28/11/2006)

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