An original spin on traditional doom

Dire Fate is a doom quartet from Melbourne formed in 2006, by Phillip Atropos. Their early years were spent as a one man band. As the years passed, a full line up formed around Atropos, and Dire Fate has since released three demos, and a split with recently defunct Adelaide institution Rote Mare (whose mastermind Phil Howlett has since joined Dire Fate on bass).

Their debut album …Where Undead Once Were has yet to see a physical release but was issued digitally for a brief period in late 2016/early 2017.

From the moment that album opener ‘The Twelve Who Sleep No More’ kicks in with its immense riff, it’s obvious that this is going to be a traditional doom album, albeit with Dire Fate putting their own spin on the formula. And for that, they’ve chosen a brilliant song to begin proceedings. Atropos’ are very suited for the type of doom that Dire Fate purvey. Mostly clean and clear, with a slight operatic touch, they call to mind the likes of Messiah Marcolin or Phil Swanson, albeit with a slight blackened touch. The song continues at its measured pace until a frantic solo from lead guitarist Shayne shakes things up. It’s no easy feat to pull off a near ten minute long opener, but Dire Fate do it with aplomb.

‘Ah Satan (Do You Know Him?)’ is another lengthy track, this time with Phillip conjuring a tale of visitations and reverence. It works as a good opportunity for him to display the versatility of his vocals against the counterpoint of the foreboding atmosphere that the band is creating here. In many ways, this one is quite traditional in approach too, but it’s played with undeniable passion. At around five and a half minutes in, the shuffle turns to a swing and Shayne lets rip with another killer lead, as Phil concludes the tale.

‘Cast the Spell’ begins with ominous drum beats until a slow, grinding riff roars to life. This track feels to have a bit more of a traditional heavy metal influence, filtered through a doomy approach. It serves as an excellent opportunity to hear the interplay between the instruments, as Atropos’ vocals weave in and out until that majestic solo begins to take form. ‘Spire of War’ kicks off with a growl, and a reappearance of that slightly blackened touch. This is the only track under five minutes, and it comes well placed. The urgent pacing carries a bit more of the trad-metal influence found in the preceding track. It works well as a respite amid the doom.

Album closer ‘His Terrible Name’ leads off with another ominous riff, before the rest of the band join in unison. A multifaceted vocals approach is employed here to great effect. Lengthy instrumental passages, including another great solo, help this track stand out on what is already a fine debut album; additionally ‘His Terrible Name’ and the opener serve as great bookends to the album.

2017 is proving to be a banner year for doom metal. With the likes of genre stalwarts Leif Edling, The Ritualist, Pagan Altar and Pallbearer, as well as relative newcomers Illimitable Dolor and Arduini/Balich either having released music (or set for release), the bar has been set quite high. On this, their debut album, Dire Fate have easily cleared it.

1. The Twelve Who Sleep No More
2. Ah Satan (Do You Know Him?)
3. Cast the Spell
4. Spire of War
5. His Terrible Name