Dol Ammad - Star Tales
Black Lotus Records
Electronica Futuristic Metal
12 songs (62'02")
Release year: 2004
Dol Ammad, Black Lotus
Reviewed by Alex

Dol Ammad is an unusual entity all around – the name, the lineup and, of course, its musical output. The brainchild of Thanasis Lightbridge, one should expect something uncommon from Dol Ammad when the band mainman is listed on “synthesizers” and vocals are handled by 12-people choir, equal amount ladies and gents.

Star Tales is Dol Ammad’s full-length debut, with this young band collecting only a couple of demos under its belt. It can be considered then a mini-coup that the band was able to secure services of Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody) on drums. With Alex recording drum tracks at Gate Studio under Sascha Paeth and Olaf Reitmeier, it is conceivable that masters of symphonic metal (Angra, Kamelot, Rhapsody, Heaven’s Gate, Epica) could have given Thanasis a couple of pointers. Alas, with the rest of the recordings taking place at Thanasis’ personal project studio, this young composer managed to create an album big on ideas and ambition, but a little thin on sound.

Opener Dreamport serves as an entrance to the Star world of Dol Ammad. Spacey synths, ominous chords, rocket launch sounds and a number of little beeps and whistles – it is a sign of things to come. The whole affair of Star Tales is targeted for the listener to get immersed into an abstract world of protomatter, galaxies forming and distant stars shining far away. For this purpose synthesizers are necessary and Thanasis leads the way throughout. In some songs he attempts to do some fast, almost schizophrenic riffing with his keys (Eclipse, Vortex 3003). With such frantic keyboards and joyous, soaring melodies Star Tales really reminds me of Bal-Sagoth. Although stylistically and otherwise completely different, the way keyboards are brought to the forefront and drown everything else allows one to make the comparison. And just like Bal-Sagoth, intense synthesizers, weak everything else and loads of electronic effects makes the whole album come off as soundtrackish.

I understand that the purpose of Star Tales is to create a futuristic electronica driven picture, but this is still called metal, and thus Dol Ammad is severely lacking bottom end in their music. You just can’t do guitar power chops without giving any power to the guitar (The Hill of Hope). Very few moments of guitar harshness (Weaver’s Dance) are quickly reduced to string twang. I am not even mentioning the bass. It is if Nick Terry didn’t even record his lines. Some cerebral riffs would do Dol Ammad good, they certainly help on The Veil, with piano coming in to provide darker melody.

Alex Holzwarth is also not made the centerpiece of the show. He could be providing heaps of double bass (Eclipse) or be really percussive (Mission Butterfly) or tribal (Weaver’s Dance), but you ought to give the man a higher spot in the mix. You brought in a star, might as well use it.

Vocals are applied in a very interesting way on Star Tales – they, in fact, are just another instrument, the only instrument allowed to share some frontroom in the mix along with synths. Chorus people are almost always singing high with voices being sopranos and alts, only rarely a male sounds a bit deeper and more dramatic (The Veil). Often female vocals are reduced to a bunch of ah-ohs, the whole album creating a feeling of an ultramodern progressive instrumental. I do appreciate that feeling only not for 12 tracks 62 min on straight, thus I welcomed a break in a form of a quick medieval organ based intro Birth of Kruug.

Undoubtedly, comparisons will be made in the case of Dol Ammad. Some will invoke Ayreon (because of futuristic concepts and Star themes), others will mention Therion (because of chorale style vocals). I’d agree with neither, but instead say this is a modernized version of an old French quartet Space led by Ekama. Really brings the memories of my youth. Provided the sound matures Dol Ammad really has the potential for something fresh and unpredictable.

Killing Songs :
Eclipse, Birth of Kruug, Vortex 3003
Alex quoted 65 / 100
Other albums by Dol Ammad that we have reviewed:
Dol Ammad - Ocean Dynamics reviewed by Marty and quoted 70 / 100
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