Released: 2015, https://dogbane1.bandcamp.com/
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Unexpectedly, the band Dogbane enters the metal fray from North Carolina, USA. North Carolina isn’t exactly a hotbed for the metal scene so you’re assured something that is off the beaten path to some degree. When Karma Comes Calling turns out to be the band’s second release following 2011’s Residual Alcatraz. The album is produced by Dogbane bassist, Kevin Davis, and it is the first release from the band following the untimely passing of the group’s guitar player, David Ellenburg.
This 9-track release begins with a definite NWOBHM style. So much so, in fact, that if I wasn’t paying close attention, I’d think I was listening to a slab of metal straight out of 1983. I mean that in the best possible way. The opener, “Warlord”, starts the euphoric recall to days gone by in metal. Really it’s at the second track, “Dogbane”, where I found myself to be most impressed with what this band’s vision of NWOBHM in 2015. The production is raw and that helps harken back to days gone by. With that said, this album certainly isn’t solely a knockoff of the 1983 sound without bringing something current to the mix. I can’t really explain why, but this classic, traditional album falls right into place with any 2015 mix that you going on. As I read the Bio, I kept seeing the term “doom” related to the genre. It’s not until around track 5 that I really hear “doom” but sadly enough, those doomy moments are easily my least favorite on the album. Nothing is flat-out Candlemass or My Dying Bride in terms of its doom sound. There are just moments where doom seems to be injected into the tracks and for my ears it turns into more of a nuisance than an enhancement. It kind of zaps the energy from the band and that’s too bad.
So as we near the end of the album, I’m certainly comfortable with the term NWOBHM to describe it. I’m less comfortable with any association with Doom Metal. When Dogbane goes full-on NWOBHM, they are in their power alley. When they digress into Doom, things go slightly off track. Of the tracks, there is really nothing that I disliked overall. There were moments, but not songs. One instrumental, “Apocynaceae”, seems to be a throw away for me but everything else is a decent stab at traditional metal. My overall rating is going to come between the two genres; when Dogbane play NWOBHM, I rate them a 3.5 on those tracks. The Doom tracks score a 2.5 from me. This leaves the entire experience as a split-difference 3.0. A good time will be had but a better time is out there if Dogbane tightens up the genre a little bit.
Review By: Chris Marsh