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DWELLERS


DWELLERS


"Pagan Fruit"

By the Great Sun Jester


Based out of the Salt Lake City area, Dwellers might strike the uninitiated as another doom/stoner metal band regurgitating the same imagery and clichés that are the genre's stock in trade. Listening to the album gives lie to that assumption. "Pagan Fruit" is a fully realized album that nods to genre convention, but never fails to exceed expectations.
 
 "Creature Comfort" rides a slow blues groove for its duration and sticks in the memory largely due to vocalist Joey Toscano. His voice is an ideal fit for the material. The band's songwriting shows they have absorbed the lessons of their influences and have developed a strong understanding of dynamics. This knowledge helps the band orchestrate the stronger and quieter passage into a sensible whole rather than resulting in the choppy pastiche common to many young bands in the genre.
 
 Zach Hatsis' drumming locks onto a powerful groove from the outset of "Totem Crawler" and never relaxes. It is another complete performance from this impressive power trio who are adept at making the clichéd captures a listener's attention through their apparent commitment alone. Joey Toscano is again responsible for helping perpetuate that feeling with his emotive and clear vocals.
 
The Dwellers revisit that same slow, bluesy drag on "Return to the Sky". In the hands of a lesser band, this approach would quickly tire me. It is an obvious fact to any metal fan, or specifically doom metal fan, that too many bands have drug the genre down with a simplistic approach that lacks any understanding of feel or dynamics.  Dwellers not only elude falling into this trap but also, like a swimmer taking a high degree of difficulty dive when a simple plunge might do, they pull it off in a power trio format.
 
"Son of Raven" is an imaginative composition. The unusual tempo helps the band find a strong groove to alternate with expansive, quieter sections and Joey Toscano's phrasing is impressive. On every song, Dwellers will impress any listener with their musical cohesion - they are masters of atmospherics and this song is a superb example of that skill at work. The bluesy strain shooting through the music is ever-present, but never delivered in clichés. Songs like this set them apart from many of their contemporaries.
 
 The churning, hard-hitting "Devoured by Lions" ratchets the tempo higher than the previous songs. As well, this is a much more straightforward, traditional rock song and doesn't wear the band's blues influences so clearly. This is another great band performance, but the star of the tune is Zach Hatsis. His steady and muscular work on the drums anchors this song.
 
"Call of the Hallowed Horn" is a spectacular, wide-screen epic closer. The song has seamless construction and the band never belabors any individual section too long to the detriment of the whole. Hatsis holds things down once again with his drumming, but this final musical statement on the album reaffirms a larger point. When new bands approach their influences with the intent on refreshing those motifs with a personal twist, the music has an accepted frame of reference and genuine creativity. This song is an invigorating musical experience and never sounds derivative.
 
 Even in challenging times for new bands, The Dwellers write and play music with a resolute commitment that bodes well for their future. Undoubtedly, they will continue to broaden their palate in every respect - tempos, song length, and so on - but this album is a bold statement of weight from a potentially important new artistic force. Highly recommended.

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