Although initially billed as an Industrial Metal band, France’s Dirge have long left the confinements of the classification. And although electronic sounds abound on their latest EP, Alma | Baltica (Division), the style here is somewhere even further down the post-metal rabbit hole. I’m not quite sure even if Alma | Baltica falls under metal anymore. These five tracks seem more like the score of a science fiction film that’s yet to be filmed.
And just because it doesn’t feel like a conventional metal record doesn’t mean that it’s not heavy. ‘Red Dawn Tibesti’ with its sparse percussion and operatic female chants segue into a wall of guitar crunch and pounding drums that can crumble foundations. ‘Black Shore’ channels some of Justin Broadrick’s mood and tempo in a number that that should be the opening piece on a Godflesh album.
At the risk of redundancy, you now have been formally warned that Alma | Baltica is not an album for mainstream consumption. It’s a mostly instrumental affair that is perfectly content to ride a single world-weary riff for the better part of six minutes i.e. ‘Baltica (Sine Time Reoscillated).’ During that track I found myself wondering if this recording would work better if it had a visual aid to complement it, hence my not so brilliant film score analogy. Do most metal or hard rock listeners have the attention span or patience for what Dirge is crafting?
If you think you have it in you, then you’ll be treated to ground-shaking levels of heaviness that is briefly elevated during moments of aural beauty like those found throughout ‘Pure.’ Through a combination of synths, cymbals and what I’m guessing is magic, the Vangelis’ inspired ‘Pure’ reaches in and grabs you by the heart and all of your senses. Certainly, one of the finer sonic moments of the year.
If you think you can handle it, I suggest you spark one up and let Alma | Baltica wash over you.
No regrets here.