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A Sonic Spectacle: DOOL - Summerlands Review

The Dutch quintet further cement themselves as one of today's standout acts.

Photograph by Nona Limmen

The ability to merge musical elements in a seamless manner is an art form many have attempted in decades past. When done right, the results stand as exquisite. When done wrong, the musical output sounds forced, lacking a uniform front and a consistent flow. Hailing from the Netherlands is a band who can do it right, that being DOOL. Five years since their inception and DOOL have now taken the musical trajectory that began with Here Now, Here Then (2017) to new levels with sophomore release Summerland. set to arrive on April 10th via Prophecy Productions. Here Now, Here Then may have raised the stakes high for this much anticipated release, but the trailblazing Summerland is one that will surely please those eager to bask in the record's glory.

Prior to entering the world of Summerland, you can't help but get lost in Nona Limmen's glorious visuals, something that serves as one with the multi-sensory experience that DOOL have set forth. Let it serve as a guide as you begin with Sulphur & Starlight, the glistening opening track. It is here that you get the first glimpse of JB van der Wal's hearty bass lines, completely audible and resounding with groove. Every instrument is clear and crisp, due in part to the studio work of Martin Ehrencrona (TRIBULATION, IN SOLITUDE) and CULT OF LUNA drummer Magnus Lindberg.

Wolf Moon, a track previously offered as a single, shines as a testament to DOOL's masterful craft. Somber riffs set the tone early on, only to be struck by a masterful Ryanne van Dorst vocal performance. The coalition of soaring cries and shining guitars is something to be matched, creating what one can truly consider to be the best chorus of any song this year. Though it doesn't consist of any blast beats, growls, roars, or anything that would fall within the scope of the general definition of metal, Wolf Moon defines heavy in a unique, non-traditional way. There's a reason DOOL find themselves scheduled on bills with the likes of ARCHGOAT, SCHAMMASCH, and PRIMORDIAL to name a few. Following the grandeur of Wolf Moon is God Particle, another melding of musical chops. Like Sulphur & Particle, God Particle finds van der Wal's bass lines excelling to great affair. Tremolo-picked solos add a fine touch to the energy set by Micha Haring's upbeat drumming.

Though the previous offerings present higher tempos, the title track introduces serene soundscapes at a much slower pace, easing listeners into complete serenity. van Dorst's dynamic voice shines once more, striking a chord as glistening guitar tones levels your mental state. Her voice crescendos at the midpoint, letting out a spine-tingling cry that isolates the band in the post-metal arena. If it's not clear already, Summerland is the musical embodiment of traveling through the kingdom in the crimson skies placed before you on Limmen's cover.

The guitar work of Reinier Vermeulen, Nick Polak, and van Dorast bounces off one another in complete synchrony. Leads shine when they need to with the rhythm holding the fort right underneath as it should, adding a well-oiled and multilayered approach to the frets. Solos throughout the tracks may be brief, but they radiate pure jubilance. The galloping Be Your Sins and The Well's Run Dry are a perfect example of this, the latter of which features Okoi Jones of the mighty BÖLZER on spoken word. These two act as the apex for guitar work on the record, which comes to an epic close with Dust & Shadow. This is what you consider THE defining album closer. Hard-hitting riffs and solos, melancholic violins, and all heart-wrenching soundscapes coalesce into one and take your spirit to new and unreachable heights. You'll find yourself screaming 'Into the eye of fire' by the end of the song, we guarantee it.

Though van Dorst may have initially found doubt in the band's sound, it's clear that they've found it on the maelstrom of elements that is Summerland. This is not to say that the band has hit their peak nor that they've set predetermined expectations for their following records, rather it's an indication of the prowess that lies within the ranks of DOOL.. It goes without saying that Summerland is nothing short of exemplary, reflecting the result of a conscious and honest collection of hymns developed through endearing passion. If the band aimed at taking listeners to a spiritual afterlife of a summerland, you best believe they succeeded. All those who wonder are DOOL.

Summerlands arrives this Friday, April 10th via Prophecy Productions. Get yours HERE.

Cover art by Nona Limmen


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