Dvne – Asheran (Released July 28, 2017 – Wasted State Records)
Channeling the power and rush of the sand worm, Edinburgh, Scotland based Dvne have a knack for developing massive riffs and weaving a tapestry of emotional storytelling throughout Asheran. In my initial foray into Dvne I was overcome with a sensation of deja vu; I had felt these feelings and been shaken to my very core in a similar fashion four years previous with Anciients’ release of Heart of Oak. A genre defining record, Heart of Oak pushed the boundaries of progressive sludge and Dvne have come along to give the boundaries a much need shove with Asheran.
Many albums open poorly with drawn out passages meant to capture interest or present an overview of what to expect and instead waste two to three important minutes with fluff instead of substance… Dvne skirted this pitfall nimbly as snappy riffs quickly took over from the brief opening winds. Capturing my attention immediately, The Crimson Path eased its way into existence, slowly building and adding unique flavours around a sludgy core; middle eastern vibes most noticeable among the many influences. Again, showcasing Dvne’s ability to develop a capturing opening, Viridian Bloom enters on the waves of a quiet flowing creek and distant sounds of birds chirping. Looping guitars and clean vocals push the track towards an angry abyss. Tipping at the edge, drums and a solid bassline tip the track into the yawning emptiness. The riffs get dark and vocals become harsh, reaching for the stars from a bottomless void, stretching out in pure euphoria, every instrument comes together to push to the zenith. At the peak peace is found and in total exhaustion exaltation is had. From the closing peace of Viridian Bloom, Thirst explodes, proving calm is but momentary. Slightly angular and dissonant, heavier than anything prior, the riffs play, crashing together and spinning off in fascinating patterns, never ceasing, always foraging forward. The track lengths may be mammoth but I feel as if no time has passed, the constant change maintains interest, each track is a dense tapestry of ever-changing riffs and rumbling drums. Uplifting and powerful, the vocals on Descent of Asheran are emotionally charged and brutally honest. A head-spinning time change leaves the vocals behind as cutting riffs lacerate like pieces of obsidian. Vicious and uncompromising, the growls and harshes come together, trading lines, roaring at each other. Within this tumbling mess of smoke and sand chiming leads break through cracks as rays of blazing sun reaching towards Sunsets Grace. Bright and shiny, Sunsets Grace is heartwarming. Like coming home after a long trip, dusty and dirty but, none of that matters as you are again surrounded by loved ones. The shortest non-instrumental track at six and half minutes Rite of Seven Mournings is perfectly placed in the track listing. I momentarily began to tire, with so much greatness it began to feel as though too much a good thing was bad… but, another ridiculous transition and a slight tweaking to an excellent riff and I was back into. Like the steps of a mammoth crashing forward, you want to be crushed by this rolling behemoth. Edenfall imperceivably increases in harshness and heaviness, the riffs caress slowly becoming an angry claw. Dvne misses an opportunity as guest vocalist Jenni Sneddon is used in harmony with the existing clean vocals instead of finding her own place in the song, her appearance felt wasted. The closing pinnacle, Scion builds into rumbling drums and sliding, evil riffs with sparkling tremolos to complement a cocky bass solo.
Ever changing and ever-growing riffs groove in and out of existence, drums flair in intriguing patterns, and the bass provides a calming constant while the vocals switch flawlessly from entwining in gorgeous harmony to crushing in abandoned fury. Dvne show they can do it all and from the opening notes of The Crimson Path to the serene closing of Scion I was captivated by every movement within Asheran. Luscious fields of flowers, towering sand dunes, scathing dust storms, the rise and fall of nations adorn this dazzling composition. A grand spectacle, glorious in totality, mere words do not serve Dvne justice for the masterpiece they have graced us with. All hail the kwisatz haderach!