DORMANT ORDEAL – The Grand Scheme of Things (2021)REVIEW

Opportunistic operant inflammation plagues the increasingly skewed sociological imagination of the mouth-breathing modern consumerist — Trust no one but the great provider, trust that no knowledge is certain beyond allegiances, and sooner or later you’ll learn to trust that all of your own profitable actions are offenses against “them”, they whom are non-sanctionable, non-fungible. An eye-deadening drape of shame hangs over the suicidal realization of false, linear cause-and-effect in polarizing step from the conditioning offered by instant gratification unto physical, mental and ‘moral’ dissolution. Embody your corporate “government” approved categorization and reap desired rewards or, pay what blood and cash you’ve in generation of what jurisprudence is necessary to enact communities against this mass-hysterical god complex. Only the biggest of pictures, perspective attained through a lifetime commitment to personal cultivation of critical thinking, should influence such actions in life and as I peruse Kraków, Poland-based atmospheric/technical death metal trio Dormant Ordeal‘s discography in context of the release of their third full-length album, ‘The Grand Scheme of Things‘, it becomes natural to engage in this type of examination, to rethink the increasingly conditional and unforgiving nature of societies around the world alongside one’s imagined place (and feigned importance) within.

Most folks would view such a fully realized band with a handful of all-pro records under their belt as a sort of copped style exercise or also-ran for a certain sect of modern atmospheric and/or technical death metal but it seems the reality is that it’d just taken some time for founding member and drummer Radek Kowal to find those key rhythms and bandmates beyond forming Dormant Ordeal as a solo project in 2005. The major selling point on the full discography from my point of view has to be the consistent quality control, every release has been well-considered and neatly presented beyond some formative, generally do it yourself demos throughout the later 2000’s. The development of Dormant Ordeal‘s sound beyond their formative years and between three full-length albums can be approximated somewhere nearby the earlier work from Ulcerate, replacing the core Gorguts-sided approach of that band’s early evolution with the machined attack of ‘The Negation’ and ‘Organic Hallucinosis’-era Decapitated wherein their cold brutal death roots began to give way to sharper, catchier groove metal influenced ideas without losing the urgency of said impetus; A generalization but fitting enough idea of what to expect, something closer to Ingurgitating Oblivion or even labelmates Redemptor who’ve recently put out a similarly appealing album. This’ll all hold more water with the context of Dormant Ordeal‘s first two albums with ‘It Rains, It Pours‘ (2013) leaning into that ‘Organic Hallucinosis’ arena of groove often and ‘We Had It Coming‘ (2016) streamlining that prior approach into something more in line with the most atmospheric parts of albums like ‘Vermis’.

Don’t sleepwalk past that second full-length, though, because it was inarguably key breakthrough for the band in terms of finding their own aesthetic, tapping into a more fluid signature rhythmic approach, and developing a melody-borne voicing to go along with their high-skill yet easygoing rush of dreamy tech-death. It was grand presage for the next step which is ‘The Grand Scheme of Things‘ today and that is to suggest that if you enjoyed that previous album this latest release from Dormant Ordeal is not only cut from similar cloth but offers refinement and iteration upon the general breakthrough of ‘We Had it Coming’. Engineering, mixing and mastering from underrated technician Paweł “Janos” Grabowski of JNS Studio (Antigama, Hate, etc.), whom has worked on all three of Dormant Ordeal‘s records, continues to evolve in terms of a polished and exacting render that’d allow for development of voice without losing clarity of technique. The outcome has consistently been prime (for this style) modern death metal sound design presented with a solar, bristling sort of presence that is warm and contemplative yet calculated in its greater attack. Early Side A track “Bright Constellations” acts as the finest example of all observations up to this point: Evolved guitar voicing, sleek production, and a broadly examined melodic idea serving as the statement or ‘point’ of the piece. They’d gotten some of this balance right on the prior record so, I figure the challenge here must’ve been avoiding the creation of a “version 2.5” of the band’s sound, finding a way to ensure this record was a full step beyond past work.

Lead preview track “Poetry Doesn’t Work on Whores” is more or less signature Dormant Ordeal in the sense that you could transition directly to any song from either of their previous two records and not only recognize their sound and approach but also the timbre of the recording itself. That isn’t so much an argument for originality but an appreciation of this phenomenon of clicking over to a lead single on a new album from a band which I am only somewhat familiar with and landing upon something that is both canon and appropriately updated material for the sake of the five year gap between releases. The song itself seems to speak to the death of compassion in societies around the world, the cold manipulators and the whorish extremes of human violence and opportunism available to the mentally regressing state of modern man. I’m not sure if that is a personal rant or a loose interpretation of the lyrics but I appreciate the crumbling world and nemesis conveyed by the lyrics. The second single “Sides of Defence” gives us a shade more dissonance, which is generally delegated to Side B this time around, and melodramatic movements to illustrate consequence and dire scenery as the loose narrative the writer’s prose presents depicts the dissolution of humanity through conflict. Though much of this is more directly spoken to within the lyrics and eh, the title itself the larger point I’m making is that ‘The Grand Scheme of Things‘ isn’t waxing poetic without purpose, and the wisdom of Dormant Ordeal isn’t purely observational. Each of the eight tracks have some manner of statement worth pondering within repeated listens and I’d found the more time I spent matching lyrics to the devastated tone of the record the sooner the album landed in good graces.

Only about fifty percent of what ‘The Grand Scheme of Things‘ presents in terms of musical ideas lands as memorable statement, a good if not somewhat high ratio with consideration for the technical death metal centric idealism intended. This wouldn’t be normally be enough for me to prattle on about if the lyrics weren’t of value in generation of both theme and mood but the musicianship in hand is yet a major point of appeal, even if I’ve certainly felt I’d heard it all in this realm at some point — Dormant Ordeal‘s third record isn’t a break outside the box and rather sets itself as a standout surge of pieces within a paradigm that rarely matches high-brained contemplative perspective with notably reactive performative values. If you are not prone to approach meaning and analysis of heavy music and make those major linkages then ‘The Grand Scheme of Things‘ imposing grooves, razor-sharp technique and somewhat emotionally evocative movements are yet infinitely enjoyable on a basal level and play extremely well on repeat. Of course this is praise coming from me, a fellow who’d placed ‘Stare Into Death and Be Still’ as the number one album of last year, so, there is some bias for the pedigree of technique and style on my part. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:The Grand Scheme of Things
LABEL(S):Selfmadegod Records
RELEASE DATE:December 3rd, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Death Metal,
Technical Death Metal

Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:

Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.