Dutch band Dool (apparently it means ‘wander’) have coalesced around ex- The Devil’s Blood bassist and drummer Job van de Zande and Micha Haringfrom respectively. As such they unavoidably bring a certain amount of baggage with them for me as I loved TDB. The PR states that they have joined forces with “the country’s most infamous rock singer, the striking Ryanne van Dorst” aka Elle Bandita, singer, guitarist and sometime actress. Quite what is so infamous about her I’m afraid you’ll have to ask the PR people though as this is our first meeting, although a quick perusal for Elle Bandita shows an ‘interesting’ musical journey to here where she looks and sounds much more comfortable. She is striking if that matters, yes; kind of slightly reminiscent of a tall, young ‘don’t give a fuck’ Patti Smith I reckon but what the fuck, it doesn’t. Anyway, rounded out by guitarists Nick Polak (Gold) and Reinier Vermeulen (The New Media) we arrive at this, Dool’s debut.
With this line up, you probably won’t be too far off the mark if you hazarded a guess at the vague sound here. Not too far anyway. Dark rock I guess is a good slap on label. But they deserve much more than that.
The first song ‘Vantablack’ steps deliberately and gently in with a slow, dark riff that reminds me of something a little Chelsea Wolf; a repeating spiral downwards into a melancholy space, some clear guitar melody stepping gently across the rhythm. The vocals when they come are initially soft and warm, rising to a fine, sharp edge as the song finds a gentle turn of pace. It kind of feels like a band carefully drawing back the velvet stage curtains, showing a little of what’s to come, showcasing hints rather than coming at you full tilt. Letting you find your seat. Darkly melodic, gothic with a small g, it is a rich and compelling beginning.
‘Golden Serpents’ is where the Dool show really begins. It has that perfect guitar intro; plucked notes, jangling guitar chords sinking into a bass led dip as Van Dorst’s quite compelling and expressive voice whispers across. It is that gorgeous feel that the Devil’s Blood had; a heavy Blue Oyster Cult influence with just that breath of a little Roky Erickson enveloped by a sensual mysticism. Dark, rich and transportive with its own touch particularly thanks to the vocals this is clearly a band with its own charisma. ‘Words On Paper’ pushes this more; edgy, juddering and nervy, the lower pitch vocals in places actually reminding me of Patti Smith on ‘The Revenge Of Vera Gemini’ of all things. It’s a deft song, some excellent guitar work and the rhythm section high in the mix and with vocals from that ominous breathy sound to full on rock cry it’s now a band stepping out on their own.
‘In Her Darkest Hour’ is a beautiful composition, just the delicate touches across the sound making the ethereal visible, the atmosphere close. The magnificent ‘Oweynagat’ next up is maybe the best song the Devil’s Blood never wrote; full of a psychedelic magic, a descending and rising flow wave like and smooth but with Dool’s more focussed style and variation. I am thinking of the difference between Babylon Whores and Sleep Of Monsters, where you can undoubtedly still feel the previous band in the sumptuous folds, but the cloth is different, the embroidery a distinct style.
And you just know this band too should be magnificent live.
They slow down for a malevolent moment in ‘The Alpha’, a climbing then crawling song. Again the range of expression in the voice seriously impress and the band just seem so at ease with each other, a sway and flow that never approaches the mechanical but never wavers. ‘The Death Of Love’ glistens like starlight on a cold night, polished jet in its deceptively gentle sound. ‘She Goat’ closes in suitably urgent style, an earworm guitar melody, a snarl to the sound that almost casually flicks a finger before disappearing.
It’s a fantastic debut. Maybe considering the constituent parts you should expect class but the charisma of the band, the collective feel, the song-writing touch are never things you can expect. If any of the bands I mention are in your heart then you need to cross paths with Dool.
Rich, dark, sharp and with a curiously reckless vagabond charm I hope they continue to wander this way. Superb.