Dotma: Sleep Paralyses

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Dotma: Sleep Paralyses
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Dotma: Sleep Paralyses
Power Metal
Scarlet Records
March 22nd, 2011
Release length: 51:54
Myspace
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With the surge of female fronted Gothic Metal bands simply getting out of hand and over saturated, many bands are looking to Nightwish for inspiration, as the female fronted Power Metal style is slowly starting to drown with bands that take a symphonic or orchestral approach to the Power Metal style, but offer absolutely nothing new, fresh, or original. Dotma kind of walks in between those worlds. The band formed in 2005, and managed to secure a deal with Scarlet Records to issue their debut full-length CD, Sleep Paralyses. But, though it manages to seemingly walk between both worlds, is this an impressive enough album to keep it’s head above the metaphoric enclosing waters?

The music Dotma plays seems like a mix between an Orchestral Power Metal style of medieval and fantastical ideas, sometimes treading into some lighter Folk influences here and there, such as the later part of the opening track, “Legend of Blackbird”, retaining a water-like atmosphere to the music to coinicde with the lyrical content of the track. Vocally, it sounds like the approach is more of an operatic style in a much higher pitched voice, but nowhere near a falsetto. In fact, it’s rather impressive, though the range for the vocals isn’t the most impressive, but still there and retains a very innocent and soothing feel to it, clearly taking inspiration from both for Nightwish vocalist Tarja, but also a bit of Liv Kristine of Leaves Eye’s. It’s an interesting mix. Of course, the music eventually shies away from a more folk inspired sound here and there, such as with “Reborn” which takes the song for a more stronger, faster paced Power Metal vibe, as well as incorporates a more tenor style male vocal performance that one would genuinely expect from an opera, and matches the soothing beauty of the female vocals, while still being somewhat booming in volume, but never really hitting it in the power that many listeners would want if the music ever actually picked up to a more epic sound, which some tracks, such as “Reborn”, really feels like it tries to reach but never does.

Sleep Paralyses isn’t too far off from the more powerful female fronted Gothic Metal bands, especially with tracks like “Indian Fall” which takes a more power ballad-like approach to the music, but incorporates some Folk instruments, and a traditional clean singing performance that borders more on a Gothic Rock or Metal style like Within Temptation or Leaves Eye’s, being more traditional then operatic. But, while this may sound generic, it’s actually not. While some songs on here, like “Reborn” seem to miss the mark on building to an epic performance and being stuck going nowhere, “Indian Fall” is a strong, emotional track that starts off somber enough, then builds to an epic climax that utilizes layered vocals nicely to make the female vocals sound more energetic, passionate, and even powerful before closing with a single vocal layer that brings a genuinely passion to the forefront of the song that is rather stunning. And, when the band tries to put that powerful and stunning attitude forward as a whole, it can really lead to some breathtaking tracks. Again, “Indian Fall” really stands out for the band with it’s fantastic more traditional Folk-like ballad sound and vocals, but then there’s also the somber sounding “Kingdom of the Sky” that goes at a slower pace, but changes up the sound and incorporates some more epic builds to it with a fantastic vocal performance that really hammers in a powerful performance from each member of the band to weave a simply beautiful song with an ending that seriously should have been considered for “Reborn”.

Yes, sometimes it feels like songs on Sleep Paralyses don’t necessarily go anywhere, but it’s very limited. As mentioned, “Reborn” feels that way from start to finish. The music has a rather generic path set up for it in the composition, and then the performance sounds nice, but it just doesn’t feel like it goes anywhere, as it never builds up to anything. The operatic vocals are great, but feel more like a tease then anything, especially when the male vocals kick in and, while complimentary to the female vocals in the first place, feel retrained, like there was a powerful performance that was supposed to take place eventually, but never did. “The Cave” features an energetic performance by the male vocalist, but sadly not in the manner one would hope from the teasing on “Reborn”, and take a more generic starts-soft-then-ends-screaming manner, as if maddening to portray the character he speaks of through narration. This track also features an interesting moment that sounds like a Black Metal blast beat approach around the final third of the song, and while all of this really makes the song feel like it’s going somewhere, by the end of the track the song doesn’t feel like it really did anything to stand out or make use of the powerful vocal talents of the group, restricting itself more to the music that started the album off on “Legends of Blackbird”, but not quite reaching that same level of atmosphere, and kind of just staying at the lower enthusiasm of “Reborn”, even with the additional heavier moments that try to build some epic elements to the mix.

Sleep Paralyses isn’t quite like many other female fronted acts out there, but at the same time it does hold a few of the staple ideas in place. The music here can often be passionate and powerful, just like the female vocals and the random supporting male vocals. However, much of it feels restrained by the band in an attempt to keep everything within a general idea and flow to focus on beauty. While this is a great concept, it takes away from the powerful performances that could have been littered throughout the entire recording. Aside “Reborn”, the material here is impressive, and nothing all that bad, though some tracks don’t seem to really ever get off the ground, as stated above. However, one listen to this debut Dotma album, and it’s easy to see the underlying talent of the band members, causing the listener to feel like the band was perhaps a bit too afraid to push themselves a little more, or perhaps still haven’t acknowledged their musical abilities yet. Either way, Sleep Paralyses makes for a great album, and will leave a lasting impression on the listener to expect great things from this group.

01. Legend of Blackbird – 5:47
02. Reborn – 4:58
03. Silent Sunshine – 4:24
04. Indian Fall – 4:16
05. Whispering – 5:49
06. The Cave – 6:55
07. Kingdom of the Sky – 11:01
08. Memory Worth Dying For – 8:44
Initial Pressing Score: 8/10
Dotma (band)
Dotma
Digital review copy of this release provided by Scarlet Records.