Jan 142022

(After some time away, Grant Skelton returns to NCS with this review of the long-awaited new album by Portland-based Dolven)

Greetings, fellow NCS readers! While it has been some time since I’ve contributed any content to our beloved site, I remain a faithful visitor. I know that the last 2 years have been particularly dreadful for us all. It is my sincere hope that all of you maintain the wellness of mind, body, and spirit. With that in mind, I am pleased to present you with this review of The Tyranny of Time by Dolven. Though the album was released in December, I didn’t want it to get buried in the year-end Listmania morass. Thanks to Dolven guitarist/vocalist Nick Wusz for agreeing to a later review.

I (briefly) covered the first album by these melancholic minstrels all the way back in 2015. I’m an ardent devotee of folk music. And that passion seems to deepen as I grow older. Acoustic instrumentation brings with it an air of remembrance. Even the term “folk” carries connotations of history, mythology, culture, and traditions. Folk music isn’t something that’s performed for you. It isn’t something that you just listen to. Rather, folk music invites you to participate in the formation of a narrative. This is the realm where Dolven dwells.

Each medium (vinyl, CD, and cassette) of The Tyranny of Time bears a different cover. The paintings on both the vinyl and CD versions (by Frans Franken and Arnold Bocklin, respectively) depict Death playing a musical instrument (a violin or a fiddle). A cassette copy of The Tyranny of Time depicts the painting “A Christian Martyr Drowned in the Tiber During the Reign of Diocletian” by Paul Delaroche.

The Tyranny of Time invites us to participate in a narrative about mortality and brevity. Look at how Death makes merry while we make plans. Death revels and plays a tune while we scurry about hoarding fiat currency and precious stones. We work, and we strive, and we store. All the while, Death stands nearby gleefully running his bow over the strings of his violin. When the end comes, what will all our work mean? What is it for?

Dolven’s Bandcamp page describes their sound as “acoustic doom.” In this instance, the label is very apropos. All of the songs on The Tyranny of Time involve parting with something. Parting with loved ones. Parting with the seemingly inconsequential moments of one’s life. Perhaps even parting with one’s own soul.

The music on The Tyranny of Time is like reality – cold, bitter, and sparse. At the same time, it has a somber beauty to it. The track “43” finds a narrator grappling with the chaos and confusion of a deceased father figure. “After The Deluge” finds an Ego and a True Self ripping one another to shreds – not unlike the acerbic black metal vocals contained within the song.

Fans of Navigating The Labyrinth waited 6 years for new music from Dolven. The Tyranny of Time expands on everything Dolven’s debut did and does it better. Please support the band via physical copies below.

Find Dolven on Bandcamp here and Facebook here.

  9 Responses to “DOLVEN: “THE TYRANNY OF TIME””

  1. Wow, where has this band been hiding? Great melancholic sound. Got the album already.

  2. They’ve been somewhere out in the Pacific Northwest. Lots of wooded areas thereabouts I’m told.

  3. They’ve been somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Lots of wooded areas thereabouts I’ve been told .

    So glad you liked the album!

    • Indeed. I first met Islander out there when I lived in Seattle. Gems like this band are becoming as plentiful as the evergreens.

      • I live in the South. But this kind of music resonates with me on a deep level. Regardless of where it comes from.

  4. Man, this was the best surprise. I recently fell in love Navigating the Labyrinth when I was looking up Tim Calls drum activities. I was enamored with the rustic doom take and found myself returning to it more often than most things in 2021. Imagine my surprise to hear that they were back with another offering. Sadly lacking Tim Call this time, but clearly lacking nothing with the new addition and only surging forward, further into the labyrinth of sonic dynamism and emotional depth. Bravo.

  5. I love folk music. And I obviously love metal. But I find a lot of folk-metal acts are like a good fondue- extremely cheesy. For me they’re both not metal OR folky enough to my ears. But this is really good. The acoustic guitars weave a gorgeous tapestry upon which the lyrics perform their danse macabre. Moody and emotional. Like the best black metal. Definitely puts me in mind of Grylle or Obsequiae.

    • Excellent! I really enjoyed Austin Lunn’s folkier sides of Panopticon. Grylle I’m unfamiliar with, so I’ll look into it.

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