Friday 11 March 2022

DOPE DEFAULT ~ DIVISION ....... review

Thessaloniki quintet Dope Default will be no strangers to those who regularly visit Desert Psychlist as we have covered two of their releases on these pages and hope to cover many more in the future. The band, John Campbell (vocals); Dimitris Kolimvanos (guitars); George Kontouris (guitars); Makis Georgiou (bass) and Thodoris Anastasiadis (drums), started life jamming a groove that blended elements of alt-rock and grunge with elements of stoner/hard rock and metal but by the time they had reached their second album "Imprisonment" the grunge had taken a bit of a backseat and the rock and metal seemed to be in the driving seat. This year the band return with their third album "Division" so lets see who's got the wheel this time out.

Well the answer to the question posed in the first part of this review is that Dope Default are once again balancing their metal with their alt-rock but once again with the metal having the upper hand. Having said this you might well begin to think Dope Default had gone "doom" after hearing the low slow and heavy intro into first track "Midnight Mass", however, things get back to some semblance of Dope Default flavoured normality when the doomic intro subsides and makes way for a fizzing and fuzzy stoner riff over which clean powerful vocals tell tales of sacrifice and ritual beneath which the drums and bass lay down an appropriately strident rhythmic backdrop. "Future Without" follows and boasts juddering guitar riffs and thundering rhythms beneath a vocal that lyrically splits its time between looking back with regret and looking forward with gritty determination while next track "Duplicity" finds the band tapping into their grungier side with a nicely paced number that would have the feel of a ballad if it were not for its angry lyrical content. Its back to metallic riffing with "Down to Pieces", the songs stuttering groove is anchored by powerful  industrious drumming and deep growling bass and is further enhanced by an ear catching vocal melody and a brief but nonetheless scorching guitar solo. If there is one song on "Division" that will get repeated listens from the heavy rockers out there then it has to be "Saint of Killers", a song that among other things employs Alice In Chains style slurred guitar motifs, crunching palm muted riffs and a perfectly pitched and powerful vocal, the oh so brief guitar solo is none too shabby either. For next track "So Far Away" Dope Default opt for one of those slow burning laments that builds from humble beginnings and grows into something epic and all conquering, shivers of pleasure running up and down the spine are guaranteed to occur while listening to this. "One More Time" and "The Hand of Midas" follow in quick succession, both strident rockers and both superb in their own right with the former just shading it, for us at Desert Psychlist, thanks to its ear catching chorus, you can just see audiences fist pumping along to its "one more time" vocal hook. Title track "Division" brings things to a close, a constantly shifting groove monster with a thinly veiled political message that blends Dope Default's underlying alt-rock dynamics with their more upfront metallic leanings.

"Division" is a perfectly balanced tome that contains everything you could possibly ask for from a "modern" rock album, it has riffs, melodies, intelligent lyrics and grooves to die for. It is always good to see a band grow, evolve and take their music to that next level and with "Division" Dope Default have done just that, if these guys continue on their current trajectory their next album is going to be a very interesting prospect indeed, watch this space!
Check 'em out ..... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

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