DOLDREY – Celestial Deconstruction (2022)REVIEW

Named for the enormous, imposing fortress that’d serve as the backdrop for the end of a century long war within the middle section of Kentaro Miura‘s extensive early 90’s manga epic Berserk: The Golden Age, Singapore-based death metal/hardcore punk quartet Doldrey appear specifically inspired by the mayhemic, performative violence taking place within the setting itself rather than the political intrigue and eventual supernatural turn of the source material. I’d go as far as saying the name doesn’t necessarily carry severe meaning for the band’s themes or modus beyond being unique and admirably pulled from an essential, still pretty damned cool narrative. The major reason to pick up on their debut full-length ‘Celestial Deconstruction‘ hinges upon the battlements they’ve amassed in addressing the fusion of classic death metal extremity and proper nuked hardcore punk / crust songcraft with a reasonable taste level. In their case this happens to includes more than surface level riffcraft, a thrashing bent which will appeal to fans of the newer era of crossover as much as the deathcrust clobber crew sorts. The conundrum here arises quickly, then, as we task ourselves with dowsing up an album which is exceptional at what it does while the thing that it does is easy for a lot of listeners to waive by without a second thought or a closer listen.

Formed sometime prior to 2018 between members of Singaporean punk groups you’ve likely not heard of (ZODD, Stiletto, Sial, et al.) Doldrey picked up some quick hype when their first demo tape (‘Doldrey‘, 2018) hit on the well-respected Caligari Records imprint, boasting a brew which’d essentially appeal to the Nihilist-enjoyer in us all as death metal fans, quick hardcore punk pieces with death metallic music behind ’em. This is where a sort of glazed-over look at a band’s style can sometimes mislabel them as we’d find folks describing their debut mLP (‘Invocation of Doom‘, 2019) as everything from “blackened Entombed-core” (due to the more HM-2 focused guitar sound) to some later Mammoth Grinder comparisons, both of which are off for a few obviate reasons. While I think those are interesting enough choices made with a grain of salt, I’d look to the first Bombs of Hades album ‘Chambers of Abomination‘ minus its more obvious Bolt Thrower-isms (see: “Age of Extinction”), some of the heavier death metal edged Power Trip level metalpunk bands around today for a sense of evolved late 80’s hardcore-thrashed pit riffing (“Marked for Death”), as well as the balanced yet tuneful death metal attack of labelmates Bastard Grave to get a general idea of Doldrey‘s sound and where they take ‘Celestial Deconstruction‘.

So, it should be clear enough within moments that we’ve got more than death metal + d-beat on our hands but that doesn’t mean there is a ton to analyze, parse, and appreciate beyond solid sound design and catchy enough songcraft. It really is just a solid listen with a great sound and plenty of riffs — That should be enough to sell it to most folks who get geared up for this style of death-punk. “Blood of the Serpent” is immediately engaging in this regard, heaping on the momentum while reeling it in with a few half-speed kicks reminiscent of the classic late 80’s death metal buzz and the aforementioned Svensk roar, though we thankfully aren’t dealing with a full on Carnage-level HM-2 overdriven groan. The big deal for my own taste beyond the riffs and the roar of the first few songs which follow the aforementioned bruiser of an opening salvo quickly became the drummer’s use of the kit, a simple yet strong showcase of fills with some decent variety which helped songs like “Seed of Desire” stick in mind despite how straightforward it’d been blazing past. Less a turn-on-a-dime and more of a superior experience which emphasizes flow of ideas and exciting ones at that.

The title track is more-or-less the centerpiece for Side A, the longest song on the full listen and the one to most completely divulge the spread of death, thrash, and hardcore punk fusion on hand with an emphasis on cutting between those elements for the sake of a memorable ride and just a balls-heavy song. The value of the full listen is basically stated right there, though they’ve got a lot more to say and every variation of these thrashing, bloody riffs feels entirely worthwhile for the sake of how much harassment the band serve through the end; Of the handful of songs on Doldrey‘s first two formative releases only the first tape’s maniac opener “War” makes it onto ‘Celestial Deconstruction‘ as the more than worthy kick-off for Side B. The second half of the album makes its case between the pace modulation of “Harmonic Divergence” and some of the guitarist’s biggest riffs are reserved for the finale of “Fall of Doldrey”… though there are a couple of average deathcrust pieces in between which primarily serve to keep the rhythmic thread of the record soldiering on.

About ~five minutes too long for an extreme hardcore obsessive’s attention span but the exact right length for the average death metal fan to buzz through, ‘Celestial Deconstruction‘ finds a righteous medium between classicist death metal, proper huge-thrashing riffs and the cleverly kicked-up rhythms of timeless hardcore punk’s uprising. Doldrey have made a fantastic showing on this debut record, a listening experience which mercifully cuts the line just as their barrage finds its peak level of muscled surge and ballistic heft, leaving a prime death metal/hardcore punk statement on the battlefield. A very high recommendation.

Very high recommendation. (85/100)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
ARTIST:DOLDREY
TITLE:Celestial Deconstruction
LABEL(S):Pulverised Records,
Iron Lung
RELEASE DATE:August 19th, 2022

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