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Façade : The Eternal Dance

Bold and experimental in scope, Dutch Death/Doom band Façade's latest release is an avantgarde mix that will not appeal to all.

I recall reviewing Façade's performance on their split with Locus Amoenus last year and thinking that the Dutch group had potential but hadn't really found a combination that worked at that point. The technicality and vocals were fine but there was no real atmosphere generated so it sounded a bit generic. Anyway, I was keen to listen to 'The Eternal Dance' to see if they'd progressed, regressed, or simply stayed in the rut they were in.

My first impression of 'The Eternal Dance' was that the band had lost their minds! I mean, I don't mind a long intro as long as it plays into the album's style. The intro track 'Unmade' had supporting keys that played a space-esque background beat that was perhaps more akin to Electronic or Trance music, which I assumed would dissipate. However, much to my surprise, the supporting keys didn't change in the slightest when the harsh vocals kicked in. Think 'Extreme Ways' by Moby and add harsh vocals and you'll get a vague idea of what I mean. Suffice to say that the track did very little for me as I've not seen such styles mesh well to date.

'The Eternal Dance', at least for the first few tracks, proved to be a decidedly experimental, avantgarde group of compositions. It's hard to describe it all in a few short statements because there really is a lot to cover. Unsurprisingly, I'm a fan of some elements of it and not of others. I think the best way to surmise it is that the band have pushed themselves too far here. I'm unsure if they view this as a viable, sustainable way of entering the Doom Metal world and making a name for themselves, or whether it's simply a shot at a different style. Whatever the case may be, I believe they've stretched themselves too much and it doesn't come across well as a whole.

What I found even more curious was that as the album went on, it became a much more recognisable brand of Funeral Doom. I couldn't say that the music was anything significant when that happened but at least the production and vocals were big pluses from 'Death' onward as opposed to merely being confusing elements of a strange album. It was at this stage I decided to do a bit more research about this album because reviewing a download is harder than you'd think. A lot of information can be garnered from the inlay with regard to concepts etc. In this instance, that would have been particularly poignant as it transpired that the album itself is about Hindu goddess Kali, as well as being about the relative insignificance each person has in life's greater picture. Each track on the album represents a different phase of the cycle, which perfectly explains why there is such a lot of different styles on this album. It doesn't make it any better, but at least I understand it now.

Let me put it like this; at no stage during this album did I feel like I'd heard a complete track. It's more of a combination of different elements and different styles, which led to me believing that there wasn't a song structure in place the majority of the time. Sometimes it's guitar-led, sometimes it's key-driven, sometimes it's space-esque in atmosphere, and sometimes it's very dark. I don't mind the fusion of different styles but the band places a lot of pressure on themselves when undertaking such a task, and it can either go very right or very wrong. In this instance, I'd lean a lot more toward the latter than the former, although at least the Funeral Doom elements of the album were decent.

In terms of stone cold positives, I'm a big fan of Ben de Graaff's vocals. In the most respectful way possible, they're worthy of better song structures than they've got on this album. The production suits his vocals too, but not the atmosphere that the band seem to want to create. Again, it's an unnecessary meshing of styles that doesn't really work. I like the guitar work for what it is, but I question what the idea is behind it because I honestly don't know on 'The Eternal Dance'. If they're going for an atmosphere-heavy approach, then solos and the like aren't really necessary, at least not as often as they've utilised such. I would also add that such heavy, plodding riffs don't really suit the 'lightening' effect of the keys, which is something they seemed to figure out toward the end of the album.

So, yes - there are positives, and I've definitely heard worse releases than this over the years. How to describe it, though - that is a tricky one. Would I be sacked for describing this album as trance-influenced, experimental Funeral Doom? Well, there's only one way to find out, I suppose! It's true, though. The key loops and general atmosphere for the first few tracks appear to have more in common with an entirely different style of music than Doom Metal and yet the other aspects of their music are unquestionably Funeral Doom, as well as there being sampling and acoustics on the last track. I applaud the band for their boldness in assembling 'The Eternal Dance' because I've certainly never heard a release like it, and the concept of it is unique too. I can't honestly say that it works for me but maybe it will for some people. I need to know what mood suits what music in order to listen to something with some regularity, and in order for me to listen to this album based upon that notion, I'd need to feel depressed, lustful, angry, contemplative, and like paying £10 a pint in a club in order to listen to this album at the right time.

Summarised: a valiant attempt and interesting attempt, but for me it's largely unsuccessful.

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Reviewer's rating: 5/10


Tracklist :
1. Unmade
2. Mask
3. Ego
4. Death
5. Moksha

Duration : Approx. 55 minutes

Visit the Façade bandpage.

Reviewed on 2020-02-24 by Ian Morrissey
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