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"Dwaal" is an Afrikaans word that refers to a dreamy, dazed, or befuddled state. Ironically, that is not a state that Dwaal, the Norwegian doom/sludge band, induces. Sometimes, doom and sludge metal can be generally relaxing affairs that can leave you in hazy disarray, but not so here -- expect the byzantine atmosphere of their debut full-length Gospel of the Vile to seize and hold your focus wholeheartedly despite the 64-minute runtime. Clear your schedule, because we're streaming the album in full now:

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Set within a dystopian-feeling bed of anxiety-inducing noise and aural pressure, each of the songs on Gospel of the Vile showcase compelling themes played at a grinding pace where every note creates a pathological need for the next. While there's titanic riffs to be had (forming the basis of tracks such as "Like Rats"), many of the compositions are primarily driven by more complex orchestration, using the whole lineup to great effect. Notably, no single piece leads the charge in these less-immediate portions -- instead, guitars, vocals, foghorn-like synths, and a ultra-present bass trade off mid-motif, adding an intricacy that's a strange but welcome companion to the antipathy-laden songs as they create multi-layered unease.

The album is an arresting ride -- the combination of towering guitar segments with the varied instrumentals at hand builds and releases tension provocatively, never letting calmness sneak into the equation. Where a wholly pummeling sludge approach might have worn out its welcome and a more atmospheric, mellow interpretation could have grown stale, the fusion of both with a misanthropic packaging to unify them easily fills up its hour-plus runtime and leaves us wanting more. Careful study of Gospel of the Vile's teachings will reveal one single, critical tenet: Dwaal manufactures the type of doom that pulls your guts out through your eardrums.

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Gospel of the Vile releases March 6th via Dark Essence Records.
Follow Dwaal on Facebook and Bandcamp.

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