Montreal’s own Dopethrone recently released their fifth LP. Their new record is a groovy, dirty, and fun rendition of the popular filthy sludge subgenre of metal. Click below for an overview of the release.
Dopethrone contributes to the reason why Montreal, or even the province of Quebec as a whole, is often called the metal capital of North America. While many stellar bands reign from this region (we even have our own thriving black metal scene, sorry to boast), Dopethrone manages to emerge from the saturated pool of music groups. A partial reason for their success lies behind the group’s unique style of playing.
The band title “Dopethrone” is taken from Electric Wizard’s popular LP of the same name, and the style inspiration is prevalent. A single subgenre category won’t suffice for the group, as their music has a mix of stoner, sludge, doom, and even a hint of black elements in the vocals. Groups like this that are more fluid in terms of style are my favourite because they always end up being so unique. While I love another Bathory clone, finding something new within my metal adventures is always welcomed.
Transcanadian Anger, or should I say “TRANSCANADIAN ANGER” because every written element of the record is in all caps to push the release’s theme, is a play on Darkthrone’s popular album Transilvanian Hunger, for obvious reasons. This clever approach from the group is fluid throughout the release, as their song titles aren’t very serious and they are also keen on using fairly prevalent samples within some of the songs. These elements diversify the record and converge to create an ultimately fun atmosphere while still maintaining an aspect of seriousness all the same, as the lyrical themes preach real issues most of the time. Let’s discuss these factors on a more in-depth level below with a breakdown of the release’s most prominent tracks.
The track opens with a fairly lengthy sample of a clearly flustered male rambling about how he was riding his motorcycle through the backroads and very-avoidably ran over a goat. He describes how he could have chosen a more favourable approach to the encounter but rather rapidly decided to speed up and hit the animal. He proceeds to complain about the goat’s blood and guts that stuck to the underbelly of the chassis and ended up being cooked while the driver drove to the closest gas station, resulting in a foul smell.
This sample is played over a very groovy bass riff that reminds me a lot of something that Sleep would write as an interlude in one of their songs. The track as a whole is very solid, incorporating a lot of strengths from each instrument being played. Overall, the song uses the sample in accordance with a simple set of lyrics being barked out by the vocalist to portray a mockery of those who get caught in the moment and would rather harm others than slow down their momentum. The title also eludes to this idea of a misuse of some sort.
This track is by far my favourite song on the record. The mix of a groovy continuous riff, a pacing drum beat, and the consistent forward-moving vocals mesh together to create an amazing theme song for the train barrelling down the railway tracks on the album cover. You can just picture this track being perfect for a scene in Mad Max; or you know, you can create your own George Miller fantasy by playing this tune in your car when you’re barreling down the freeway. The track simply sums up the record very well in its accordance to the album art, there’s not much else to say. It’s a great driving song.
The record also features a pretty interesting cover of ZZ Top’s “Tush”. The group changes the lyrics so that the protagonist is “Just lookin’ for some kush” instead of tush, which contributes to the stoner vibe of this record for obvious reasons. Dopethrone’s grimy style applied to the classic song works very well and I really enjoyed the cover’s inclusion on the record.
I find myself struggling to discern between the other tracks on the album. While listening to the record I undoubtedly enjoy the music, but I find it difficult to identify any of the separate tunes after listening, they kind of just meld into a hazy fog. This is an issue that I feel on the fence about, as you can make cases for both sides of the equation. Firstly, you can argue that a good album is supposed to flow well and have all of the tracks contributing to a greater feeling for the listener. Transcanadian Anger successfully manages to do this, especially since there is no dead space between each track and they purposefully flow into one another through the use of ambient noise and samples. On the other hand, you can argue that individual tracks should stand out and one flaw one could have with this release is that the songs mesh together into a foggy haze of riffs and guttural screams, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
There are moments on the release that break away from the consistent fusion of style, however. For example, there is a part of “Tweak Jabber” that breaks down into a hard-hitting guitar strum section that is separated with short vocal segments in a sort of call-and-response style which is fairly unique, but the music shortly follows to return back to the same style.
I think I will need more time with this record to find where I lie in regard to this issue, but it is a potential problem nonetheless. For an example to reference, I would argue that Sleep’s Holy Mountain results in a mix of riffs and stoner vibes, but I can still pick out individual tracks from that record because they are very different. Apart from the singles on Transcanadian Anger, I have trouble discerning the other song slots from one another. Then again, I realize I am comparing the album to the most famous stoner record of all time, so take what I said above with a grain of salt.
Other than that, I find that the record is a great release for the band and is definitely a step in the right direction. The production choices on the release are very dense, and successfully manage to create that aforementioned foggy atmosphere. The singer’s vocal style is a fresh take on the stoner/doom subgenre of metal, and really set this album apart from other similar releases. If you’re a fan of Sleep, Electric Wizard, Telekinetic Yeti, or other stoner groups, make sure to check out Dopethrone’s newest release, as it is simply a more “dirty” take on the established subgenre.