Dol Ammad – Cosmic Gods: Episode 1 – Hyperspeed

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Science fiction presents varying visions of the future. Blade Runner and Neuromancer depict a future where corporations and the mega-wealthy control society, where technology marginalizes the masses and supplants the human spirit. The Matrix takes technological control a step further. Alien/Aliens and Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space novels present humanity in a future where the universe is cold, empty, and hostile, where the universe and its denizens could swat us out of existence at any time. They tell us that our technology, no matter how sophisticated, matters little in the face of adversity.

We have numerous bands from which we could score these movies and novels. Fear Factory, Thorns, Darkspace, Meshuggah, and the Faceless are all options. Heavy metal has never lacked for darkness, hostility, and depictions of suffering, and it never will.

Dol Ammad read and watched the aforementioned works of fiction and cast them aside. They started writing soundtracks for a different sort of future, the kind that Gene Roddenberry envisioned when he created Star Trek. It’s a future where technology is bright, shiny, safe, and helpful. It’s a future where war, starvation, and sickness are largely conquered, where humanity’s future is limited only by how fast it can traverse the stars and how quickly the Universal Translator can say “We come in peace” to the aliens.

Dol Ammad goes where no man (or woman) has musically gone before, stealing Secret of the Runes’ choral vocals and lathering them, along with synthesizers and keyboards, all over warp speed palm muting and kick drums. Electronic influences wind through the music as well. The individual parts are simple, but through layering, Dol Ammad achieves complexity and immersion. Their music recollects Bal-Sagoth if the latter replaced the black metal vocals with choirs and velocity. It’s as if someone told the Enterprise’s computer to spit out some contemporary 21st century music, medium volume, rapid tempo, artificial instruments only.

The lyrics are sparse, and if they tell a story, they’re as brief as we’d need to comprehend history on the cosmic scale. Utopia beckons. Technology makes us immortal. Stars explode. Comets breed life. There are . . . battles? That’s a new trick for Dol Ammad. Star Trek was optimistic, but it acknowledged the evil of The Other and the appeal of conflict in the Nielson Ratings. It had the Borg and the Dominion and the Q, and after all, explosions are very entertaining.

So is Dol Ammad, like Star Trek, merely bright, shiny, and safe? Cosmic Gods is flecked with darkness, but darkness is not the dominant affect. It feels like an alternative vision of a genre that professes darker intentions. It only appears bright, shiny, and safe in relative terms. Metal doesn’t have to be death and doom any more than science fiction has to be mega corporations, facehuggers, and black holes. Dol Ammad is here to remind us of that.

— Richard Street-Jammer

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Dol Ammad – “Magus Invicta”

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Dol Ammad – “Caravan of Mars”

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