Dungeon Steel
Bloodlust EP

One of the things I love most about music, and this especially applies to the wide-ranging world of metal, is that there are all kinds of ways a band can grab you by the throat and force you to give them your attention. It’s not a one-size-fits-all, one-formula-for-all situation. You can dazzle with an all-out technical display, you can overwhelm with the heaviest of riffs, you can inspire with earworm hooks and melodies, or crush the senses with the most neck-snapping of breakdowns. This is just scratching the surface of possibilities, honestly.

For me – I’m a sucker for bands that can just bring the friggin’ energy. The kind of pedal-to-the-floor assault that just keeps coming and coming and coming and leaves you gasping for air. The kind of energy that made Butcher’s 666 Goats Carry My Chariot one of my favorite albums of 2020, and keeps Darkest Hour a regular part of my listening rotation (just goes to show how energy can be delivered in a wide arrange of ways).

Do you get where I’m going with this? I bet you get where I’m going with this.

Ecuador’s Dungeon Steel are here, and they’re packing a megaton fuckload of energy. BRING ON THE RUCKUS!

So, weirdly, Dungeon Steel is literally just Ecuadorean Raw Black Metal band Wampyric Rites, but Blackened Speed Metal. Same dudes, same instruments, just switching up styles. Now, I can’t say I know a whole lot about the Ecuadorean metal scene. Maybe they literally just can’t find anyone else to play with? Which would be a problem because, unfortunately, guitarist/bassist Vrolok died of a heart attack recently (RIP) soooo I guess we’ll see if this is the trio’s swansong? Regardless, in case you haven’t put 2+2 together yet, I’ll just get this out of the way: I LOVE this little EP. It’s a vodka Red Bull with a straight-whisky chaser right to my earholes. A no-bullshit, no-fucks-given sprint to the fiery gates of hell. Want to cut caffeine out of your life? Give Bloodlust a shot at giving you the adrenaline boost you need to shake off the morning cobwebs. You’ll be off coffee in a week.

Granted, Bloodlust does get off to a somewhat inconspicuous start – beginning the EP with a sort of dreamy synth instrumental you might expect on an early Moonspell record or something. Almost sounds like something you’d hear on a Zelda dream sequence. It certainly does not set you up for the all-out attack that follows, that’s for sure. “Kommand Wolf” gets this thrill ride off the line with a raw and raucous mix of breakneck riffs and raspy, blackened vocals that add up to something somewhere kinda between Midnight’s sneering, punkier attitude, and the aforementioned Butcher’s no-holds-barred satanic speed metal assault. This song really kinda has everything you want: A collection of high-energy riffs, some sweet blasting, and even a gnarly little breakdown at the end of the song that will get you doing full-body headbangs.

And it’s a model they stick to for the duration of the EP. Given the bare-bones production of the record, it’d be very easy to spot any technical missteps from the band, but everything is played super tight – especially the excellent, busy drum work from Eblis Destructor. Like I said, this is all about the energy, and he’s bringing it in spades. Not to be outdone, the late Vrolok’s ability to change paces from punkier speed ‘n’ roll riffs and leads on “Heavy Metal Tyrant” and “Midnight Nightmares,” to the thrashier attack on instrumental “Knight’s Head” and everything else he brings to the table here is played with a super upbeat delivery that just kinda sinks its teeth in you. Where his work on Wampyric Rites was certainly competent, this seems far more comfortable a wheelhouse for him, and the band as a whole. We’re not breaking and new grounds here, but the output here is far more compelling and fun than anything you’d find from the band’s other work.

It’s a shame we won’t get to hear Vrolok’s work again on any potential future releases from Dungeon Steel, but man, what a great legacy to leave for yourself. I hope the band forges ahead and is able to adequately replace him, because Bloodlust has just the right combination of pure, raw fun and actual technical ability to keep me coming back to this over and over again. If you dig bands like Demiser, Butcher or Deathhammer who’ve dedicated themselves to all things dark, demonic and evil – but in a super fun good-time-having way, then Dungeon Steel should make its way onto your radar pronto. Circle pits for Satan!!!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
November 12th, 2021

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