Dopelord makes no bones about it, the metal community has been pretty tight with the Dark Lord himself since the beginning. Satanic imagery, the occult, horror, and anti-Christian subject matter have always been a part of the music we know and love here. Consequently, metal bands and their fans have historically been accused of being “devil worshippers.”
Frankly, this conflict has been around since parents unsuccessfully tried to shield their female teenagers from the evil gyrating hips of Elvis Presley, claims that songs by the Beatles and Led Zeppelin had subliminal messages about the devil when played backwards, and Tipper Gore and the PMRC ultimately slapped an “explicit content” label on our music.
But, that didn’t stop us. Metalheads decided that if we were going to be accused of conspiring with Satan, we might as well own it. Satan effectively became our homeboy, a fitting mascot to misfit kids with a penchant for heavy music who had been proverbially cast out, often the black sheep of their families and peer groups.
Dopelord, a stoner/doom band from Warsaw, Poland, turns out to have some pretty legitimate beef with religion, deeply rooted in their country’s history. The Catholic Church has had a stronghold on Poland’s culture and values for centuries, and this oppression by the church is exactly what inspired the lyrics of the band’s new album, Songs for Satan.
Taking their inspiration from “vintage movies, 70s music, everyday life, and magical herbs”, Dopelord formed in 2010. Their lineup consists of Pawel Mioduchowski (guitar and vocals), Piotr Ochocinski (drums), Grzegorz Pawlowski (guitars), and Piotr Zin (bass, vocals, and mellotron). They’ve performed amongst the likes of Belzebong, Major Kong, Stoned Jesus, and Mars Red Sky, and are now five albums deep into their career.
However, Songs for Satan is not the band’s first time using the fallen angel as subject matter. (The song, Hail Satan from the band’s 2020 album Sign of the Devil immediately comes to mind). But, Songs for Satan is different in that it’s a concept album that focuses entirely on Satan and the occult.
Songs for Satan
Songs for Satan opens with the song Night of the Witch, the first single Dopelord released in July of this year. The song is very heavy and doomy with some incredibly fuzzy riffs throughout, the epitome of a modern doom metal song. Over this, the vocals are a melodic chant. This gives you the overall feeling of an incantation, especially when you hear the repeating lyrics, “Close your eyes, feel your powers rise. Close your eyes, watch them suffer.” I was reminded of a much heavier, darker version of the band Green Lung as far as the overall feel of the song. You know, that occult, witchy, burning a church in the Old English countryside vibe, but WAY heavier.
The Chosen One was the second single Dopelord released from the album. We continue the scenario presented in Night of the Witch, in which an individual asks the devil for powers in order to obtain revenge. Now, that person is offering up their soul to said devil upon realizing they’re the chosen one. The guitar in this one is a bit brighter and graces us with a few awesome solos, giving a hint of traditional heavy metal influence.
The vocals are still executed in the melodic chanting style, but are a bit brighter as well, changing with the character’s emotions. The greater energy from the guitar and vocals over the still-lumbering bass and drums convey cautious optimism. The subject is excited and grateful about their newfound power, but is still quite terrified at the gravity of the situation, humbling themselves before their “master”.
This is followed by One Billion Skulls, in which the proverbial shit gets real. This is evident from the vocals that will occasionally drop to a guttural growl. At this point, our subject claims to be “the stone from Satan’s slingshot” and to “spit in the face of God.”
Evil Spell, a very heavy and fuzzy number, is the point at which “the circle is completed”. The vocals are back to being melodic again and have a pondering tone, questioning where we go from here. There are some very good guitar solos on this song as well. I found this track to be a bit one note and on the long side, but understood its importance to the story as a whole.
In Worms, we’re made well aware that this is it. The vocals throughout the entire song are death growls, indicating that Satan is speaking (spoiler: he doesn’t sound pleased). We also get probably the best riffs and guitar solos on the album on this song, bringing our tale to a chaotic and violent end.
The album ends with the instrumental Return to the Night of the Witch, a haunting synth version of the chorus to Night of the Witch. This is incredibly eerie, especially after the chaos of Worms. We can only assume from this that our friend, the power-hungry and vengeful subject, is no more.
Listening to Songs for Satan left me feeling like I’d just watched a good horror movie; a bit shaken and certainly thoughtful, wishing I actually could have seen this very story depicted visually. Creating a concept album was a great idea and fit for Dopelord, and they executed it incredibly well. The songs sucked you into the story, each one leaving you dying to know what would happen next. I can’t say that any other concept album I’ve listened to has had me that invested.
Musically speaking, I found myself reacting to this album in a similar way that I did to Sun King by Moon Coven. I found Songs of Satan to be a cleaner, more refined version of the band. While previous Dopelord albums are certainly great and have a fair amount of musical variety, Songs of Satan seems to be settling into the band’s signature sound. To say that Dopelord is leveling up would be an understatement; they’re taking their much-deserved place as pillars of modern doom.
Songs for Satan releases on October 6th, on Blues Funeral Records