Originally written by Erik Thomas
There are several definitions of “Avant-Garde”; New or unconventional movements; progressive, experimental, cutting edge, the application of new concepts and techniques in a given field. In the metal genre, the same applies, but when you think of avant-garde metal who comes to mind? While you could argue who is considered avant-garde, I think most would say the likes of Arcturus, Unexpect, and Ephel Duath. Well, if you do indeed use those three acts as a template, you can add Hungary’s Damned Spirits Dance to that list.
One only needs to look at the CD cover to see the Arcturus influence in the band’s aesthetic presentation (apparently circus costumes and puffy shirts are requisite for Avant-garde metal). Musically, the band plies a form of melodic black-ish metal littered with lots of quirky synths, clean vocals, off kilter programming and chaotic, but playful time shifts, and an overall theatrical/Circus aura that makes the band a challenge to listen to. You never know what’s coming next. It makes for a decent little album.
“Visioner” starts things off appropriately with a hazy lounge music crooning before the stammering and off beat riffs indicate an expected heavy Arcturus vibe alternating between raspy but amicable black metal and tinkering synths. Second track “Cold Winds” initially starts as a frosty but melodic black metal track, but soon injects Carnival-ish hues and a few closing moments of progressive harmonies and atmospheres, and then a stern climax. It’s all very well done, nicely produced and the vocals of Sinox (Gábor Makács) are never too over the top, and heavily influenced by Garm/Trikster G.
Then “Devils on His Way” is the first track where things start to get really avant-garde, with some almost System of a Down/Mr. Bungle structures delivered with black metal sneer and slice. It’s the first track where you feel DSD really start to cut loose with their more eclectic elements and it’s not the first; tribal beats for instrumentals “Raven” and the short title track, female operatics and orchestration dominate my favorite track (because it’s more traditional symphonic black metal) the epic “The Angel and the Dark River,” a hazy stoner metal riff to start off “So Much to Say…So I Rather Tell None” and a rather surprising (and catchy) pop/dance beat injection that surfaces twice in the other wise solid “Fake.” But the band can deliver some decent actual guitar work as it’s not all fluff and pomp as heard on “Black Savage,” “TSS(Toxic Shock Syndrome)” and the majority of “Fake.”
At 55 minutes, the album is a tad long, and closing acoustic ballad “Guess, I’m Dying” is needless, but on the whole an enjoyable unpredictable album that should please fans of avant-garde metal, but not so much it shuts out fans of melodic black metal.