Before the end of 2013 I did not know much, if anything, about Dictated. Fortunately last year, the band signed with Metal Blade Records and little nuggets of information began to trickle in. They are a death metal band from the Netherlands. OK death metal from North Western European areas usually tends to be pretty good. The band’s two guitarists are female (Sonja Schuringa and Jessica Otten). This is something almost unheard of in the world of death metal now my interest was really starting to pique. The band’s lineup originated through a couple of heavy drinking sessions. Interesting.
The small amount of biographic elements that I had at the time had me totally intrigued but also wondering what the world was going to get; perhaps drunken Dutch death metal. Being from the Netherlands and having two female guitarists, I was figuring on more of a melodic death metal sound. I could not have been more incorrect in my premature surface assessment.
After months of recording, I finally got my first real taste of Dictated on July first in the form of the band’s first single “No Mercy For Cowards”. I was absolutely blown away. Then more recently, the new song “The Basher” gave me another preview of what was to come. At this point, I knew I had to hear The Deceived. Well, I got that chance and man did it deliver. The music isn’t melodic. It isn’t technical. There are no “core” elements mixed in. None of the current overly popular death metal hybrids are present. This is straightforward, heavy, slam you to the ground death metal! It can be somewhat brutal at times, but never gets too over the top.
The first thing I noticed was that the musicians work together almost seamlessly, despite the intoxicated and unorthodox way in which the band was formed. The sound wall created by Schuringa, Otten, bassist Henri Sattler and drummer Michiel vd Plicht comes at you like a tremolo picked wrecking ball. This powerful music becomes really evident on the tracks “This Is to All”, “Dispossession”, “The Deceived”, “They Live, They Suffer, They Die” and “Rail of Death”. I know some may want to second guess the speed or brutality that two guitarists of the female persuasion are capable of. However, throw that chauvinistic thought from your mind before you even sit down to listen. Schuringa and Otten could easily hang with the upper echelon of extreme metal guitarists.
In their somewhat short career, the band has not only mastered heavy blast beat driven death metal but also the slow and catchy grooves required for an excellent album. The fast and slow paces meld like clockwork on songs like “No Absolution”, “The Basher”, “No Mercy for Cowards” and “Stonebreakers Rising” This is “head bobbing” death metal at its very best. The ladies are able to go up and down the necks of their guitars with relative ease and then jump into close fret grooves without issue. Sattler and vd Plicht also bring that same mix of intensity and repose. How has a band this new managed to become such a coherent machine so quickly? That is a question I would love to ask them.
So far I have talked about all things instrumental, but have yet to get to the vocals. Singer, York Keijzer, joined with the rest of the band members after a night of drinking in an Irish pub. Keijzer was the perfect choice for Dictated’s brand of death metal. Yes, on the surface Keijzer seems to be somewhat of the prototypical harsh vocalist. However, if you really take the time to finely comb through every aspect of his voice, you will hear tiers of rasp and range that you just do not get from other extreme metal vocalists.
The Deceived is a front to back excellent death metal record with many different layers and tempo changes that fans of death metal will absolutely love. The songs “Absolution”, “The Basher”, “No Mercy for Cowards” and “They Live, “They Suffer, They Die” are my personal gold standard favorites. Are there some areas for improvement? Sure, but I think that’s true of all bands. I would have liked to have seen a longer overall run time for the album. Thirty-six minutes of exceptional music just made me fiend for more. Also, on the next record I am hoping Schuringa and Otten will throw in some guitar solos. For me, death metal and chaotic solos go hand in hand, but truly I really can’t complain about any of the material on this album.
Dictated is still mostly under the radar but their Metal Blade debut should quickly gain them a lot of notoriety in the world of metal. In my opinion, this is one of the best young metal bands around right now and I implore everyone to take a listen. I don’t think you’ll be the slightest bit disappointed. Gee, maybe more band lineups should come together in a drunken state. Seems to have worked well here.
The Deceived will be released on August 19, 2014. Take a listen and let us know if you enjoyed it as much as I did? Tell us why or why or not in the comments section.