Lore – Dispel (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

If the broad genre which came to known as gothic evolved out of various strands of rock, punk, electronica and dance, it seems only fitting that those influences and inspirations are very apparent in Dispel’s music all these years later. Goth was never a very united scene even at it’s most cohesive, for every band bending keyboards sounds and dance beats to their will, there was one with their foot on the monitor, wielding a low-slung guitar. Indeed, just like punk before it, most of the bands that the scene coalesced around quickly evolved into something else.

Lore somehow sounds like a complete history of those times. A blend of the myriad influences which drove that genre from its dance infused backbeats to the medievalist vibes, from the soaring neo-classical vocals to the occasional guitar workouts, a blend of the mystical and the majestic, dark and brooding but anything but melancholic.

It’s a concept album, of sorts, but don’t let that scare you, there is a very concise approach being take here and not a 12 minute drum solo or band member dressed as a wizard in sight. Okay, there may be a wizard or two but this is as far from the old notions of the proggy concept album as you are likely to get. The songs describe the various stages of a hero’s quest, the over arching story line sitting somewhere between Mallory’s Morte D’Arthur, a tarot card reading and a late night session of Dungeons and Dragons.

Songs such as Spiritual Warrior wouldn’t be out of place in a Düsseldorf nightclub in the late 70’s, all angularity and brutalist sounds, Modal Consequence is that sweet spot between angelic vocals and subtle dance floor grooves whilst Gift of The Goddess is Gregorian chant turned into a hot, alternative anthem. There is even room for some arabesque vocals on Hero’s Revelation, a sound which fits perfectly in Dispel’s musical half light and self-contained, sonic fantasy world. It is a strange but rewarding path that Dispel follow, reminding you of many things but sounding only like themselves, as at home in full on Darkwave dance beats as they are channelling Dead Can Dance otherworldliness.

Strange, unpredictable and utterly glorious!

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