Article By: Santiago Gutierrez ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
After a two-year hiatus, the U.K.’s DARK MATTER returned with their third album, ‘The Ghosts of Dunwich‘ at the tail end of 2019.
Main man Dave Gilbert (vocals, guitar, bass, mellotron) once again smartly enlisted the help of drummer / percussionist Stefan Hepe (also of prog / folk-rock band Gandalf’s Fist) to round out the sound and feel of the record. Hepe joined the band with their second album, ‘Wood Lane‘ (March 2017), and immediately provided a more organic feel to the band. ‘The Ghosts of Dunwich‘ shows the duo targeting, and finding, a more unique and characteristic sound, it’s fuller and more focused than their previous release.
First track in the spotlight is opener “Seeds of Doom, The Misery Show,” which immediately brings Black Sabbath to mind with that opening straightforward doomy riff. The comparison doesn’t end there, as lyrically this wouldn’t be out of place on any of the early Sabbath records that dealt with deeper, more emotive, and thought-provoking themes. The addition of psychedelic overtones further along the song adds depth to the overall composition.
“Stagefright” follows up with an almost Cathedral-like riff to open the track followed by a breakdown that exudes proto doom metal before falling back into the strong opening riff to effectively close off the track. The relatively short “Deafened by Silence” is inspired by a poem by Alistair Bru Stewart; the track spiraling into insanity with the use of mellotron to create the unsettling atmosphere needed to explore the voices in your head.
The title track, “The Ghosts of Dunwich” sits perfectly in the middle of the record, as it provides a splendid transition between both halves of the record. This instrumental initially sets the perfect mood before transitioning into a prog / doom section, showcasing the solid drumming of Hepe along a solid bass line from Gilbert and veering off into a more solid groove before trailing off with a subdued mellotron section.
01. Seeds Of Doom, The Misery Show
02. Stagefright (The Game)
03. Deafened By Silence
04. The Ghosts Of Dunwich
05. In A Fractured Land Pt. I – The Silver Moon
06. In A Fractured Land Pt. II – Paradise Common
07. In A Fractured Land Pt. III – Beauty Or The Beast?
Which brings us to the last half of the album, the concept piece, “In A Fractured Land (Parts I-III)“. “The Silver Moon (Part I)” paints a wonderful lyrical picture and sets you off contemplating mankind’s place in this world. The short guitar fills between vocal lines further on in the tune providing a pleasant surprise.
“Paradise Common (Part II)” establishes an ethereal interlude both lyrically and musically before “Beauty or the Beast? (Part III)” closes off the album in spectacular fashion along with pondering lyrical content. All three sections of this composition complement each other well and solidify into a solid overall configuration.
Released in December 2019, ‘The Ghosts of Dunwich‘ finds DARK MATTER finding their musical way. Gilbert discovering the perfect guitar tone and Hepe settling in on the doom vibe that this band sits so well in exploring. Compositionally, the richer variation and transitions within the songs themselves along with touches of psych, prog, and proto-metal elevate this album above most counterparts. Gilbert has also matured with his lyrics and storytelling and the production sounds much fuller than any of their previous works.
‘The Ghosts of Dunwich‘ is available on CD and digital download or streaming through Bandcamp [link].
Dave Gilbert – Guitars, Bass, Mellotron, Vocals
Stefan Hepe – Drums & Percussion