Dorje are a band relatively new to me, having witnessed them at this year’s Wildfire Festival. They’ve been knocking around for a few years now and with this, their third EP, it’s a testament to hard work paying off.
Centred and One has some great things going for it, mainly the skill on display from the band. They’re insanely tight. However, as they fall into the prog bracket, it’s immediately something which isn’t in my wheelhouse. That being said, I can enjoy prog metal; it’s just something I don’t find myself listening to on purpose.
With the crunching riffs and wailing vocals from Rob Chapman on “Outspoken”, I’m reminded of Killswitch Engage’s As Daylight Dies material. It’s where Chapman’s voice hits its peak with his intense vocals, sounding as if his vocal chords are being stretched to their maximum. Meanwhile Chapman’s guitar alongside Rabea Massaad weave around each other but it feels rather stilted and deliberate, rather than coming naturally and there’s an air of familiarity around their tones.
As for the title track, “Centred and One” feels like it’s following a blueprint that’s been used by other bands in the past and as such, sounds like it’s done by the numberd. It hits all the marks of a metalcore track with the exception of harsh vocals. Not that I’m looking for them here as it would just be adding diversity for diversity’s sake but I keep expecting them to kick in.
It’s with the closing track of the EP that Dorje gets everything right. If the rest of the EP was like “Flower of Life”, they’d be onto a certain winner. The prog is dialled back, the guitars feel more organic and Chapman’s voice turns in its best, most varied performance. I’d be interested in hearing more if it was like that. Even then it feels slightly forced as if they willingly loosened the reins by half an inch, just to experiment for the sake of it. If they gave another half-inch and kept their remarkable polish in place, Dorje would have that perfect balance.
I went into Centred and One with an open mind, hoping to be won over. I can’t fault the musicianship on display, even if the guitars do feel familiar; there’s skill to be shown off. However, it’s held back by its own need to be precise and deliberate.