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Album Review: DOOL The Shape Of Fluidity

9 Reviewer

Dool have only been around for a few years – and only released a couple of LPs thus far – yet the quintet have firmly planted themselves among today's finest Dutch rockers. Fronted by vocalist/guitarist Raven van Dorst, they stand out most due to their balance of touching hooks and heroic structures, all the while incorporating subtle but impactfully vibrant nuances and tasteful dynamic movements. Their latest album – The Shape of Fluidity – is easily their best demonstration of those winning attributes. Fully living up to its title musically and conceptually, the collection is an anthemic and atmospheric ride that finds Dool at the peak of their powers.

The group rightly describes The Shape of Fluidity as a mixture of "progressive rock, metal and post-rock." There are also some psychedelic and stoner rock elements thrown in for good measure. As for its themes, it focuses on "identity in a world that is constantly in flux," prompting listeners to ask: "How can we be true to ourselves when the world around us has such high and constraining expectations?"

That question is notably pertinent and relevant since – the band continues – the record sees van Dorst looking inwardly to explore their journey with gender and identity. You see, they were "born intersex, and as an infant surgically forced to live their life as a girl." Several years ago, however, van Dorst "decid[ed] to take matters into their own hands . . . by reclaiming the space that was taken from them, changing their name, and finally becoming at peace with their hermaphroditic nature."

Naturally, such personal subject matter needs to be represented appropriately, and from beginning to end, The Shape of Fluidity is a captivatingly vulnerable, honest, and empowering statement.

For one thing, Dool prove to be masters of building suspense and intrigue with gradual increases in tensity and complexity. "Venus in Flames" is an excellent example of that, as van Dorst's stacked opening lament (backed by tauntingly patient instrumentation) soon gives way to sleek explosions of rebellion and angst. This temperamental ebb and flow runs throughout the track, simultaneously delivering a mesmerizingly harrowing yet defiant tone. Both its arrangement and vocals skirt the line between those extremes masterfully and confidently, with van Dorst's urgent falsetto harmonies near the end providing the stirring cherry on top.

Those same features bolster most of the remaining tunes (especially "Self-Dissect," "Evil in You" and "Hermagorgon"). Elsewhere, though, the LP ventures into wider-ranging landscapes. Instrumental "Currents," for instance, is a hauntingly dissonant post-rock interlude that's as beautiful as it is chaotic. In contrast, "The Shape of Fluidity" and "Hymn for a Memory Lost" are lighter and more poignantly invigorating affairs, while "House of a Thousand Dreams" and "The Hand of Creation" are particularly epic and multifaceted.

Beyond being Dool's best record to date in many respects (boldness, cohesiveness, ambition, sophistication, etc.), The Shape of Fluidity is an outstanding glimpse into van Dorst's individual (but universally resonant) triumphs and tribulations. It feels modern and retro at the same time, too, with the quintet mixing and matching various subgenres with ease and purpose. In numerous ways, then, it's a crucial declaration.

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