Dirge - Vanishing Point

29 Apr 2021 - Thorsten

Post-Metal | Division Records | Release date: 26 Mar 2021

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Retrospectives are a rather difficult thing, because many fans have their own idea of how to honor their favorite band and often those notions culminate in highly differing expectations which might not be fulfilled. The best way might be the one taken by late Parisian post-metal-pioneers Dirge with their latest (and probably last) release Vanishing Point - they give us a bit of everything.

Some remixes (done either by them for others or remixes of their own songs), some live-taped songs, a lot of rarities – that is Vanishing Point. Given the circumstances – songs from very different points in their career, songs from entirely non-equal recording spots etc – one should not try to see this release as one complete structured and well-arranged entity with an artist devoting lots of time onto the best order of the songs and so on. However, one can recognize some structures and leads and follows in some phases of the triple-CD, but later to that.

Of course, one should first assess some of the most interesting things about this recording: If research has been done correctly for this review, then Dirge do something new on CD1: they give us their only recorded cover song ever! “A Short Term Effect” was done for an awesome French compilation covering the entire Pornography-album by The Cure. Dirge’s version is not only nearly twice as long but also very different – and that is exactly what I like about cover versions if they are done right: Giving a (completely) new perspective on a song; and that is exactly what the guys did here as their version is much slower, doomier, and nevertheless, if you listen careful you can even notice some of the “sparkliness” of the original in some underlying sounds of the cover version.

Some of the remixes are so miraculously done that they show how good Dirge’s songwriting was when you still see the original shimmering through. The most compelling combination here is the remix of “Hosea 8:7” done by none other than Treha Sektori’s Dehn Sora. His remix turns this thumper of a song from Dirge’s last masterpiece Lost Empyrean into a much shorter, highly-condensed ambient track with some of the vocals trying to push through the dense passages of ambient and drone spheres.

That rather short track is the total opposite of the last CD, with only two songs but nearly 42 minutes length. These versions of “Epicentre” (originally on Wings Of Lead Over Dormant Seas) and “The Endless” (originally on And Shall The Sky Descend) are said to be the only well-recorded live-tapes ever done by the band. But even more important than that: they show why Dirge-shows are ranked to be among the most intense live experiences ever, because the songs develop an even stronger urgency when played live. Especially this near 30-minute-version of “The Endless” shows that – the live version is more than ten minutes longer than the original recording!

Many of the songs come from Dirge’s long-gone past, but, luckily, the mastering done by Raphaël Bovey transforms these (some of them more than 20 years old) into tracks that sound as fresh as if they were recorded just a few months ago. And in some ways one might say that this fresh remastering also gives the songs a uniform style and thus structure. But sometimes it also becomes quite apparent that some songs were recorded at roughly the same time; take for example the mighty trio of industrial stompers “Below (Twist of the Knife)”, “Absence” and “Distance”, which were all written and recorded during the work on Hyperion.

On Vanishing Point, Dirge display so many of their talents that one quickly realizes one thing: Dirge remains one of the best post-metal bands from Europe! Ever! This release is just another proof that the band will be sorely missed by so many!