Dordeduh - Har
Progressive Black Metal
8 songs (1:01:28)
Release year: 2021
Reviewed by Goat
Album of the month

A long nine years after their self-titled debut back in 2012, Hupogrammos and friends are back with another lengthy opus of atmospheric and progressive black metal. For all the love shown to the legendary Negură Bunget on this site in the past, you'd have thought we would cover every new growth from such promising offcuttings, and indeed, it was a blunder not to show more love to Dar de duh, a fantastic album that belonged in the site awards for that year. Moving away from black metal whilst still being clearly of that genre, Dordeduh (a Romanian composition meaning 'longing for spirit') have used the time since their debut wisely, and Har is a stunning release accordingly. It's possibly the greatest thing to come from the Romanian scene as a whole since the wonderful Om, although opinions can and will differ!

For a start, this is a much more progressive album than may have been expected. Sure, Dordeduh (and of course their parent band) have always had that aspect to them with lengthy songs packed full of acoustic and native instrumentation. Yet moments here like the maddeningly catchy Descânt with its almost poppy dulcimer plinks harmonising with the riffs in a call-and-response fashion are altogether unexpected, particularly given how the song continues to explore the band's usual blackened sound rather than existing as a mere single. There's nothing outright avant-garde, but symphonic explorations like the interlude in Vraci de nord that opens into a beautiful post-Ulver electronica-backed soundscape are glorious in impact.

And the band's black metal base is just as stunning. Twelve-minute opener Timpul întâilor begins with deep vocal moans and ritualistic percussion, bringing back memories of Om as the track sets an ominous atmosphere before launching into a near-stomping riff. It soon allows the blackened, atmospheric elements such as the keyboards and electronics to take over, an almost Enslaved-esque mixture of progressive stylings before referring back to that classic Negură Bunget-esque melodic trill, with an added psychedelic twist as the speed grows into a black metal charge. The clean singing throughout the album from Hupogrammos and bassist Flavius is fantastically good, light and clear, and perfect atop the band's melodic mix of guitars and traditional instruments, all played excellently, resulting in one of many songs here that are just a pleasure to listen to.

It would probably have been easy for Dordeduh to drop all harsh vocals and lessen the black metal impact of their style, so it's good to hear roared vocals on the doomier-paced În vieliștea uitării even if the mix of clean voices later in the track are what really sticks with you! And the general embrace of blastbeats and metal elements that originally gave Romania the crown in this style is present throughout the album as its backbone. So tracks that lean a little more into the band's progressive side, such as De neam vergur with its almost Devin Townsend-meets-Rotting Christ-esque smooth build-up, work extra well both as breathers and blackened pieces.

Fascinating, how the band do this; even the ominous percussion-and-spoken-word-focused interlude Calea magilor serves to break up the longer, more epic pieces without detracting from or interrupting the grandiose atmosphere thanks to those stirring keyboards. They're such a huge part of what gives Dordeduh their unique beauty, and the way that the band are developing and experimenting with them without losing the core power of their sound is remarkable. Even when given the spotlight, in parts of Desferecat for instance, the keyboards alone hold your attention as well as if not better than the metal elements. A well-put together album, full of fantastic songwriting, listenable and melodic, holding fast to the band's roots but also pushing their sounds in new directions; Har is yet another shining gem from these underrated craftsmen.

Killing Songs :
Timpul întâilor, Descânt, Desferecat, De neam vergur
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Dordeduh that we have reviewed:
Dordeduh - Valea Omului reviewed by Milan and quoted No Quote
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