REVIEW: Dogma – Mute Message [EP/2016]


Artist: Dogma

Album: Mute Message – EP


Every one of us is born with a purpose—a message to share with the human race that is transposed into action. We carry it around until, presumably, the time is right to release out innate burden of uselessness and prove to the world we have worth. 

But what happens when that day never comes?

The cross we bear and dream of shedding simply grows heavier and heavier, snapping your collarbones and shrinking your spine with every staggered step you take. Each breath belabored, casting pins and needles into your lungs. This feeling grows from pain to betrayal, until eventually, it becomes the truest and most harrowing form of despair you can imagine; at that moment, you will only begin to understand Austin-based aggressive outfit Dogma. On their long awaited debut EP, Mute Message, the band truly embody anguish in its most pure and punishing form. Combining catchy, quick grooves with low, slow, knife-dragging breakdowns, Dogma are the apex of an entire genre, emerging as prodigal kings of nu-metalcore.

Instrumentally, Dogma borrow handfuls of haunting effects and eerie riffs from nu metal pioneers like Korn and Slipknot, while adding a fresh, furiously heavy aspect to their dynamic in the same vein as Barrier and Sworn In—yet distinctly unique and recognizable as their own sound. Percussionist Chris Kingsbury is the perfectly-set metronome to guide the band, adding energy to every song without sounding overzealous or rushed. “Message” is an exceptional example of this—beginning with a subtle buildup that launches into a raunchy, ruthless groove, Kingsbury guides the band with practiced expertise. Meanwhile, “Pretty” sees him experimenting with more atmospheric and less direct patterns—trading flashy footwork for lofty, looming cymbals that are harshly contrast by his sharp, cutting snare drum. While Kingsbury’s kick drum is monstrous in its own right, it is never alone—as bassist Cameron Graves is his ominous, oppressive shadow. Graves finds himself working double duty throughout Mute Message. On “Mute,” Graves adds punch to Kingsbury’s bass drum, amplifying Dogma’s devastating low end. Meanwhile, “Pretty” is an example of Graves adding a mid tone to the catchier parts of the chorus—while the breakdowns and “Swamp” sees him adding just as much grit and grime as the song name would imply. Atop it all, guitarist Jonathan Sanchez gives the band groove by the mega-ton while adding aggression and brutality by the boatload. Sanchez has distinctly nu-influenced grooves that appear during “Pretty” and “Worm,” while “Message” is by far his most varied outing—flowing from flawless, furiously-fretted riffs to floor-shaking, mountain-moving breakdowns with seemingly zero effort. This trio work together in a way many modern metalcore bands simply don’t, and the result is nothing short of jaw dropping.

With every second you pass up a chance to make a difference, the voices in your head grow louder and more aggressive. You go from “let down” to “fuck up” to—worst of all—“disappointment,” and by that point, the voices personifying despair and bitterness in your psyche have converged into one voice—that of Dogma’s frontman, Zach Greatorex. If the lead single from Mute Message, “Worm” didn’t convince you, “Message” might—as Greatorex’s tortured screams and shouts are the very embodiment of complete emotional collapse. “Worm” and “Message” see his shrieks going acapella—while “Pretty” includes haunting clean vocal harmonies that will get stuck in your head and linger there like trapped ghosts. Greatorex’s vocal prowess is matched only by his lyrical talent—and I mean that quite literally. His vocals and lyrics fit together like Yin and Yang, grating and distressing in the most cathartic and creative ways you can fathom. Where Dogma’s musicianship is a fine blend of depressive and energetic, Greatorex’s shouts define either sensation—serving as the icing to the otherwise impeccable cake that the quartet have created.

Perhaps the easiest way to summarize Mute Message is that it is what Sworn In’s The Lovers/The Devil should have been. Combining eerie ethereality with brute force, Dogma are figurative alchemists of sound, combining perfect portions of countless influences and styles to create something unparalleled. Five tracks of fury, frenzy and—above all—feeling, Mute Message is an absolutely lethal display of talent that will sew the listener’s eyes and mouth shut—abandoned with every sense but hearing artificially paralyzed, so the only thing they can do is absorb Dogma’s debut release the way it is truly meant to be heard.

Alone. Abandoned. Mute. 



For Fans Of: Sworn In, Barrier, Change Is, Slipknot, Introvert, Desolate

By: Connor Welsh