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Released: 2011, Heaven and Hell Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Dogbane are a five-piece doom influenced traditional heavy metal band hailing from Greensboro, North Carolina. Heaven and Hell Records recently released the debut full length album RESIDUAL ALCATRAZ this past December. It's also worth noting that Dogbane also have great taste(s) in metal citing both Trouble and Pentagram as their main musical influences.
RESIDUAL ALCATRAZ opens with the hazy doom riffery of "Ride The Serpent" a slow and hypnotizing exercise in stoner metal. "Born To Die" sounds like early eighties biker metal with it's bad to the bone mid-paced skull crushing delivery. "Annihilator" has a super heavy opening riff that gives way to abrupt stop-start rhythmic passages that better showcase the higher register of vocalist Jeff Neal. "Devil In The Dark" is catchy, memorable even, but this track in particular had me double checking the release date as it sounds more in line with late seventies heavy metal than that of the here and now. "Burning The Light" is droning, super laid back and sedative inducing... You know what I mean, it's a good doomy tune, is what I'm trying to say (Probably all the more epic of an undertaking in the live setting). Towards the end the temp picks up and there is some pretty tasteful melodic meanderings and soloing before bringing the hammer of doom back down again with crushing force.
The title track on RESIDUAL ALCATRAZ is about as close as the band get to any territory minutely resembling thrash and/or speed metal (And by that I mean judge the thrash and/or speed metal by 1983's standards). This kind of stuff would've shifted units by the truckloads had it been released a few decades earlier and issued via MegaForce Records or Metal Blade.
Would you expect a song called "Fire and Brimstone" to suck? Of course you wouldn't, but truth be told this is probably the filler track of the disc, or alternately, the song where you approach the bar for another drink when in the live setting. Things come tp a close with "How The Mighty Have Fallen" a tune with just the right amount of cowbell according to Christopher Walken. According to me it's well suited as the final track on the B-Side of the disc.
The production on this recording is decent enough. Don't expect anything falling under the category of "slick" or "polished" as this band probably didn't have much to brag on by way of a studio budget seeing as this is their debut release, having said that, the performances are solid and the overall mix is pretty convincing for this genre of old-school sludgery. As is the case with all Heaven and Hell Records releases you can expect the usual mp3 label sampler, interactive enchanced CD-R with extensive liner notes, credits and photos. It's probably worth noting that I was not at all sold on the cover art until I heard the music contained within and then the concept began to grow on me a bit (Still not sold on the band name). In hindsight, I now think this all pieces together pretty well. If you're still on the hunt for quality American Doom/Traditional Metal in 2012, you'd do well to give these dudes a chance.
1. Ride the Serpent
2. Born to Die
5. God Forgive Your
6. Devil in the Dark
7. Burning in the Light
8. Residual Alcatraz
9. Fire and Brimstone
10. How the Mighty Have Fallen
Jeff Neal: Vocals
Mitch Allred: Guitars
David Ellenburg: Guitars
Kevin Davis: Bass
Jerry Cloer: Drums
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