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[Label: Grow Your Own]
I was supposed to put on a gig for DOGMA in June 2020, but COVID happened and they had to cancel their European tour. A real shame, since I see this Ottawa-based band as one of the best in contemporary anarcho-punk. In our day and age when being “insta-famous” is actually a thing, DOGMA sounds fresh, genuine, and humble. This is not to say that they are reinventing the anarcho wheel. Indeed, they would be serious contestants in a dove logo challenge, and I assume the title of this brand new 10’’ nods lovingly to POLITICAL ASYLUM. However, while too many bands used the classic anarcho-punk imagery and references as mere gimmicks, not signifying much else than themselves, I feel DOGMA’s overt tribute works. If it was a drink, DOGMA’s music would be a delicious smoothie called “ANOK Bonanza,’’ and their lyrics, while relying on traditional lexical fields, remain relevant and tackle modern topics. I am a massive fan of their first album—its upbeat yet moody dynamics convinced me instantly, and it has been on constant rotation at home. As a result, expectations were high, hopes were up, and anticipation was tense as I awaited the new record like you wait for a pizza at a restaurant: feverishly. Disarm or Die is different from the first album, though. It doesn’t look different (it is bordering on the self-referential, maybe not the best call), but it sounds different, just enough. The guitar sound has grown into something darker and more elaborate, and with the reverb effect on the bass, there are post-punk undertones. But stylistically, DOGMA remains first and foremost a British-inspired traditional punk rock band—thankfully, as the world does not need yet another generic goth-punk band. The songs are as delightfully catchy yet significantly longer and a bit slower, which allows for more space to work on the songwriting and the atmosphere. I love the hypnotic vibe of the very discernible, powerful, and almost spoken vocals, and how danceable and tune-oriented, and yet a little wistful, Disarm or Die sounds. DOGMA reminds me of many old anarcho bands (duh), especially with the very forward female vocals and that seemingly effortless catchiness and hooks. Blend ICON AD’s infectious tunefulness, A-HEADS’ passionate energy, NAKED’s songwriting flair, and INDIAN DREAM’s moody catchiness, and you’d be pretty close. Did I mention DOGMA covers ‘Witch Hunt’’ from the MOB? Don’t miss this jewel.