With a bellowing, psychedelic doom-metal sound, the SLC band Dwellers have created more than a unique wall of noise; they’ve built a fortress that has caught the eye of national promoters and fans alike. And with a new full-length album due out this week titled Pagan Fruit, Dwellers are poised to expand their kingdom and conquer the indie metal scene.
Originally conceived as a duo between guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano and drummer Zach Hatsis in 2008, Dwellers came together at a point when both members had already earned their stripes in the local music scene and were individually involved with other projects. But Dwellers became the focus when those projects subsided or broke apart, leading to the “gut rock” band’s first EP, titled Peace, and Other Horrors, released in 2011.
When Dwellers really started to roll in late 2011, the group brought in bassist Dave Jones and started putting together their second EP, Good Morning Harakiri. Its release on Small Stone Records in early 2012 gave the band instant national exposure and a spot on the label’s SXSW showcase.
“It was received well; I think we were all very flattered by the reviews,” Jones says. “It’s always nice to have a label that wants to get your music out to the public. We’ve always had a very open dialogue with Small Stone, and it has been nice not to worry what the label thinks when we are writing our music.”
They started working on their first full-length album, Pagan Fruit, almost immediately after Harakiri was finalized and off to record shops. The group joined with Andy Patterson in the studio to get the great sound of their previous albums. And Dwellers sought out some additional help from local cellist Genevieve Smith to add some strings to the rock.
“We chose her because we knew she had the chops to play, and she’s a rad gal, too, so it was a no-brainer,” Hatsis says.
In all, it took a year for the album to be completed and mastered. Adrian Brouchy of Coven Illustración created the cover illustration, with Toscano providing the coloring and layout. Pagan Fruit was released digitally earlier this month.
To refer to the album as a “follow-up” doesn’t do it justice. It isn’t trying to be gritty, retro or experimental; it’s just a damned good rock album crafted by three fantastic musicians. Everything one member does complements the other two. Hatsis keeps perfect timing with great beats and barely any filler, pounding away with enough force to make you bob your head at every snap of the snare. Jones’ plucking finds that sweet spot between riding the groove and being a force of energy, giving the rhythm a laid-back feel while still bringing the heavy. Toscano’s strong vocals particularly stand out on tracks “Return to the Sky” and “Devoured By Lions,” and his hammering on the guitar practically burns the strings off the neck. The chemistry between the three musicians is audible on Pagan Fruit.
“I loved watching all the parts come together,” Hatsis says. “Dwellers has and always will be the biggest no-brainer band to play in for me with how enjoyable it is to make music with Dave and Joey.”
w/Light/Black, DÃ¸ne, Aerial Ruin
The Urban Lounge
241 S. 500 East
Saturday, May 24, 9 p.m.