Dool contemplate one’s place, what lies beyond this realm on wildly emotional ‘Summerland’

Photo by Nona Limmen

Probably kind of not the best time from a psychological standpoint for some people to begin contemplating the afterlife, since we’re sort of surrounded by death right now, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative. If a plane beyond this life is something you believe is possible, what would that look like for you, and how would you want to achieve something that manifests itself somewhere we can’t even imagine?

That doesn’t mean we’re going all religious on you, but it’s something that’s raised in Dool’s fascinating second record “Summerland,” the title a pagan reference to the afterlife, whatever realm that may be. Vocalist/lyricist Ryanne von Dorst was contemplating the idea of what her place is in this world, what the idea of ultimate pleasure entails, what form an afterlife might take, and the concept of reincarnation. Also inspired by the Richard Matheson novel “What Dreams May Come,” that tackles the Biblical visions of hell, she and her bandmates—guitarists Reinier Vermeulen and Nick Polak, bassist JB Van Der Wal, drummer Micha Haring—weave immersive tales that are heavy and melodic, often infectiously catchy, and spill in psychedelics and other heavy forms of haze that will keep your blood pumping but also your mind wondering what might be possible in this world or the next.

“Sulphur & Starlight” opens the record with guitars chiming as van Dorst’s velvety voice booms, especially over the chorus when she calls, “When will you stop pouring starlight over me?” before later noting, “I’ve never seen fortune in your flames.” The song gets calm later on, with jazzier singing, before moody guitars end this great opener. “Wolf Moon” has a tempered start, pushing through with another great chorus that follows mesmerizing verses. Keys drip in later while the singing remains top notch before bowing out on the chorus. “God Particle” has trippy acoustics before a flurry of guitars kicks in as the track flows generously. “Can you relate to me?” van Dorst wails over the chorus, repeated several times to hammer home the point. A dreamy drive arrives later before the leads heat up, melting the back end with a fiery blast. The title track follows, running over 8:25, slipping into gothy waters, as van Dorst delivers higher-register singing that usual. “Maybe I should start a war and take you to the Summerland,” van Dorst calls over the chorus before the pace ramps up noticeably. Powerful soloing kicks in and lights up the room before the playing trickles into a sea of watery keys.

“A Glass Forest” flows in before picking up the pace and landing punches. The track also delves into psychedelics as the guitars stoke the flames while van Dorst insists, “I won’t live by your ways,” before the track fades into ash. “The Well’s Run Dry” bursts in as van Dorst delivers deeper singing before the playing heads off to the sun. A wave of eerie speaking flows into mind-altering soloing as the playing spreads out, intoxicating before fading into chills. “Ode to the Future” sounds like folk-driven heavy rock as it gets started as van Dorst continues to push her voice, and the tempo rouses. “Into truth forevermore,” van Dorst belts, while the track takes on a ’70s occult rock vibe, before she delivers a monologue that ends with, “I’ll see you in the Summerland.” “Be Your Sins” delivers smothering riffs and hypnotic bends before van Dorst levels, “As we read between the lines, the words cry out.” The chorus is infectious as hell with some frosty coverage, and then the guitars open up, organs swell, and van Dorst notes, “We’re at a point of no return.” That’s certainly a scary thought right now. “Dust & Shadow” ends the record, pulling from “What Dreams May Come,” shimmering and floating off into the cosmos. “I stand before infinity, it calls to me,” van Dorst wails as the playing continues to gain momentum, the volume floods, and the track disappears into a black hole.

Dool’s resume might be only five years long, but they’re already delivered two excellent records, with “Summerland” a huge high point early in their run. The record is packed with drama, gothic power, and bleeding emotion, and each song works well together but also can stand out as a whole if required. This band remains one of our favorite newer acts of the last part of the 2010, and if they continue on this path, we’re only scratching the surface of what they can achieve.

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