There's something special about 'The Dwelling' that sets it apart from other magnificent albums that I have listened to. For the longest time, I've considered this album my personal favorite album ever in heavy metal or in music in general. Sabbat have gone through four albums of awesome evil sounding black metal; and when round five comes along, they spring an hour long song at us. This would either be really awesome or a waste of time. Not only did 'The Dwelling' fall into the former category, it went beyond awesome and made itself a very personal favorite of mine. Even any complaints I see about this song's length I consider shallow.
With such a lengthy song, there really is no proper way to listen to this album besides just hitting play and listening to the whole thing. The first few minutes start the song off slower with lead guitars and scary sounding vocals coming in after a bit. The production is perfect for a black metal album. It's not fine, yet it's not raw enough to make it totally sound like shit. This makes the song almost scary sounding. Before even entering the 3 minute section, the guitar breaks into tremolo riffing.
Sabbat have the good taste to keep things well varied in this piece. Only three minutes later, the tempo drops with the scary sounding ambient keyboards coming back into the background and a solo starting up. The tempo then speeds up while Temis continues his solo. It ends before the speedier section stops again; but when this section does end, the slow part before the solo comes back and his soloing starts up again. With that, a grand piano also comes into play eventually creating a auditory vortex of chaos as Temis's soloing, the piano, the bass drums, and Gezol's lyrical recital churns up the fires of hell stronger than they have ever done before.
However, we aren't even ten minutes into this beast! After the vortex ends, another tremolo riff signals the beginning another speedier section. When the slow it down again, they keep the ambiance and piano out of it and make it more of a mid-paced rhythmic section. It does acquire a scary tone around the 16:38 as it builds up to a slightly faster rhythm. In this faster rhythm, Gezol's clean lyrics are really haunting in sound. Once the lyrics end in this section, the rhythm slows down again with more frighting sounding musical section. Temis begins another lead with it going into another fast rhythm and Gezol's same haunting clean vox.
Finally we go into a totally new rhythm at 20:18. Gezol goes back into his black metal shouting/shrieking. After he's done with his vocal lines, the song speeds up with drums going into an almost blast-beat-like rhythm. This type of passage is repeated once. After the second time, a new rhythm comes in that soon slows down. Soon another, more mellow sounding, lead from Temis comes in with it eventually playing in melody with Gezol's bass. After a brief section of vocals and partial blast-beating drums, another lead comes in from Temis. This time it's less mellow and, when played with a blast-beating section, becomes really furious. Everything then culminates and builds up...
And then it all stops. Or rather it fades away to be replaced by acoustic guitar. We're just about halfway through the song at this point, and what better to celebrate the halfway mark than a haunting oriental sounding acoustic rhythm. This acoustic rhythm gets some accompaniment after a bit with a lead guitar playing with it as well as the bass and drums. The song speeds up again after the 31:30 mark with another lead from Temis. Then slows down with only the drums and acoustic guitar playing, followed by only electric guitar and bass.
This rather mellow section is finally ended at the 34:29 mark with a notably faster rhythm being played in tremolo and vocals soon coming back in. It eventually speeds up more with Gezol continuing his vocal lines eventually ending in "LAH-NAH-NAH-NAH-NAH-NAH!" This section is repeated with the same type of ending on the vocals. Then all instruments except bass. After a bit, the guitar, bass drum, and even the ambiance from earlier in the song come back in to buildup to a slow section of melodic playing on both guitar and bass. This instrumental section goes all the way up to the later end of the 41 minute section with the buildup returning to introduce a similar rhythm with different rhythm and no leading, but vocals do return. After one vocal passage, the leading begins again.
We're running out of time at this point with just a little more than 15 minutes left of the song. The rhythm stays mid-paced around here. When the vocals come in again, it sounds like Temis singing. His voice is distinctly higher than Gezol's. Though at one point, Temis's shouting and Gezol's lower haunting voice play through together. More sections of tempo changes and leads go in and out until Temis does another verse without ending in a duet with Gezol. The next run begins around the 49 minute mark. Gezol takes the lead vocal role once more with the music sticking to a mid-paced rhythm. Then, the music gets really fast with the guitar and bass playing together in a flying dual tremolo rhythm interrupted by the bopping on the grand piano. The flying dual lead and piano section are repeated again before mellowing out once more to a mid-paced rhythm. Gezol's vocals are recited in unison with Temis's lead before the lead totally takes control of the song. The lead continues on before returning to the original rhythm...
...and then we're back to the beginning? The rhythm is very much the same as the very beginning of the song. And you know what? What better way to end this? Closing vocal lines and lead guitar playing are gotten out of the way. Afterwards, the guitar plays some more notes by itself with bass and sparse percussion joining in a final push to close the song. The bass itself gets a little more prominent than the guitar even. The ambiance begins to fade back in with all the metal instruments still playing. Finally, the metal instruments all fade away leaving the dark ambient sounding keyboards to reflect upon the hour that just passed into the ears.
Wow. Just wow. Sabbat have seriously outdid themselves here. Gezol, Temis, and Zorugelion have played their respective instruments masterfully. Gezol's vocals are haunting and awesome as always, and his bass playing is inspirational as always. Temis's guitar prowess shines to it's maximum potential given all the room to do so. Zorugelion doesn't miss a beat on his drums, and he is the one who really signals the changes in the songs structure. 'The Dwelling' to me is the greatest musical production in the history of music. Though there may be other albums that I give the 100% to, I still give this album much more praise; and every time I listen to another album that might get a 100% score from me, I ask my self "Is this better than 'The Dwelling'?"
And the answer has always been "no."