I've actually heard of Dogbane. No, not the band, but the plant. Did you that the plant is considered poisonous to dogs? From the Greek, it's scientific name, Apocynum, means "Away, Dog." Need some more useless information that has nothing to do with this review? Dogbane contains cymarin, used treat cardiac arrhythmia in humans. Of course, I'm sure all these things were taken into consideration by the founding members when choosing the band name, Dogbane. I doubt it. But I digress.
Talk about a throwback. One spin of Dogbane's second long-player, When Karma Comes Calling had me thinking I was back in the tape trading days of the late Seventies and early Eighties. From North Carolina, Dogbane is a traditional heavy metal band. Think the American side of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, maybe with a slight touch doom metal. As such, the band works from the fundamentals of classic heavy metal genre: working harmony and melody by arrangement and by twin guitar harmony, providing a groove and power from the rhythm section, and offering clean melodic vocals. There's no hint of anything related to modern metal, and that's a good thing.
You get the doom angle when they slow the pace down, get a bit plodding if only in parts, as with the title cut, Calm Before the Storm, or Devil By The Horns. For example, in that last song, the doomish quality raises in the center, but then the song turns into well-paced groove monster. Alternatively, several songs bypass the doom motif. A good example is Dogbane, something more like speed metal in it's pace and led largely by the twin guitar harmony. And the twin guitar harmony, as it fits their chosen genre, is self-evident, yet it's not clear if this then leads to shared guitar solos.
One difficulty that appeared right at the start was the recording of Jeff Neal's vocals. On Warlord and more than a few others, his vocals seem muted, even lost in the mix. Alternatively, within Devil By The Horns, Neal is much more present. Eventually, my ears adjusted, but somewhere in the recording process his vocal performance was allowed to be made uneven in the final result. Otherwise, Dogbane's When Karma Comes Calling is an interesting and entertaining excursion into traditional melodic heavy metal, and well worth your exploration. Sorry I can't give you a tune to spin. You might find something on their website.
Dogbane's When Karma Comes Calling is an interesting and entertaining excursion into traditional melodic heavy metal, and well worth your exploration.
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