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Dead Can Dance - Dionysus CD (album) cover


Dead Can Dance


Prog Folk

3.90 | 92 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars DEAD CAN DANCE started out all the way back in 1981 and would eventually captivate the world with their unique blend of African rhythms, Celtic folk touches, ethereal otherworldly atmosphere and dualistic vocal approach of Lisa Gerrard's tender angelic siren effects alternating with Brenden Perry's suave crooning sensuality remnant of a mix of Frank Sinatra and Chris Isaak. While they may have had their heyday in the 80s and 90s, they have proved themselves not to be a relic of the past when they emerged from nowhere with 2012's "Anastasis" which found former full band turned duo revisiting their neoclassical darkwave past that slipped away on 1996's "Spiritchaser." While the band hadn't abandoned the richness of the world music smorgasbord effect that they had so deftly thrown in the salad bowl, it was great to hear the darkened 80s atmospheric touches that made them stand out from the alternative pack.

While "Anastasis" may have seemed like a one off and as time elapsed possibly the last artifact to emerge from this now classic musical act, lo and behold DEAD CAN DANCE rise from the grave for a night on the town with their newest ethnically fused neo- darkwave of the 21st century, DIONYSUS, which is a concept album that unfolds a two act set of mini-suites. With a decorated past that began in gothic rock and then experimental neoclassical darkwave which finally gave way to a complete emergence into ethnic worldbeat, it would've been impossible to predict where DEAD CAN DANCE would go next if anywhere. Well, after finally releasing a new unexpected album to an unsuspecting public so late in their game (Gerrard is married in Australia while Perry resides in Ireland), it is a thrill to find that they have taken a cue from much of their past minus the goth thing unfortunately.

Once the initial atmospheric touches lead the way, the groove immediately takes us on a polyrhythmic journey with African beats, Middle Eastern musical scales, wind instruments, Gaelic folk and finally Gerrard's vocal style reminiscent of the Bulgarian Women's Choir with the distinct Eastern Orthodox polyphonic chanting style. After the first act nears its completion and i cogitate upon the concept of a tribute to DIONYSUS who was the ancient Greek god of wine accompanied by one ethnically infused cadence after another, it finally occurs to me: DEAD CAN DANCE have become the acoustic equivalent of the psybient electro group Shpongle! While not as brash and far reaching as the electronic duo from the UK, DEAD CAN DANCE provides the same mesmerizing groove that seamlessly weaves myriad cultures as if they are the conductors on the world's playground and it's time for recess.

Rhythmically speaking, DIONYSUS has much more in common with the overall flow of the album "Spiritchaser" as it has a slow and steady groove that marches along nonchalantly as it's joined by the the rest of the world showcasing their musical contributions to humanity. Atmospherically though, the duo brings back some of that deliciously darkened neoclassical darkwave ambience so deftly dominant on albums like "Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun." Vocally, this one is pretty much wordless (in English at least) and vocals are only present to provide supplemental instrumentation. While Gerard dominates "Act I," Perry finally joins in on "Act II" where the duo provide a call and response effect that is surely summoning the proper gods for more wine! DIONYSUS is truly the Gerard and Perry show. They play all the instruments heard and the ethnic musical styles range from Iranian and Turkish folk to Byzantine chant, Balkan and Greek folk and their usual ambient and new age atmospheric dressing.

After all is listened to and done, it is apparent that nobody can crank out an ethnically charged quite like the dualistic synergy of Lisa Gerrard and Brenden Perry. While clearly not as dark or anywhere as gothic as their earliest recordings, DIONYSUS is a beautifully presented journey into the beauty of planet Earth through music. The music creates a fairly danceable (in a bellydance sort of way) rhythmic parade into the world of ethnic folk which implements many sounds from field recordings to augment the authenticity of this caravan throughout the world. While some may find this to be a tad cheesy and belongs on something like the Putumayo label or something, i would have to wholeheartedly disagree but then again i'm an ethnomusicologist at heart and have a soft spot for exotic musical sounds from all across the world and this one delivers a masterful mix of those sounds in perfect harmony without missing a beat. While i personally liked "Spiritchaser," this one is a bit more dynamic and diverse. In short, a great comeback.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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