If Ghost have taught us anything, it’s that you can actually get a long way by making religion subversive and horny and founded in big, bombastic classic-rock excess. A very specific lesson, no doubt, but imagine how prepared the listening public will be for Dogma to basically parrot it back wholesale, albeit from a female perspective. Yes, for once, an observation that appears as myopic on the surface as ‘the female Ghost’ actually has quite a lot of truth to it. Instead of a pope and his ghouls, Dogma are further among the clergy as a sect of nuns, each named after feminine demons and entities (because of course they are), with all the same propensity for surface-level Satanism as a front for the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll gaudiness.
That’s a flagrance that’d be far less excusable if the specificity of theming wasn’t so integral, or if it wasn’t this much fun. That’s really the key to Dogma, especially they’re evidently not aiming that much higher than the band they’re cribbing from. After all, you’d be able to tell if this was all perfunctory, or came from a place that wasn’t fully committed to the bit. Dogma instead embody the blazing soul of hard rock pageantry with next to no compunctions about ‘seriousness’, and it’s ultimately what seals some rather terrific entertainment value.
The important thing to note is how, on their debut album, Dogma have already been able to find a foolproof pipeline between leveraging that, and distracting from some of their more obvious flaws. The production might be the biggest, where Dogma’s Ghost-like ambitions aren’t privy to the same lavish budgets, and therefore can produce some downplayed, clunkier riff-work like on My First Peak, or the occasional dose of underpowered synths and strings on Feel The Zeal and Pleasure For Pain respectively. But adaptability is a great trait to have, and Dogma’s embrace of their own chintziness and squeezing the absolute most from what’s here is admirable. They’re aiming for the rafters every single time, where even some of the smeared-over colours and sonic textures can work towards that. As far as ‘sounding big’ goes, Dogma seem to have a workaround for every bump that the road presents them, often being a case of ramming right through them via sheer, undiluted force.
Outside of the sound itself, it’s the one of Dogma’s bevy of Ghost comparisons that has the most salience and recognisable footprint. You’d be hard-pressed to deny it on songs Forbidden Zone or Bare To The Bones; the brand of classically-inspired, high-octane opulence is borderline identical. Furthermore, Dogma’s permutations of it show how severely the insta-win comes, seeing as they’ll provide a rush of fizzy, glittery adrenaline that’s borderline identical. Between the heavy duty that the vocal harmonies pull and the sporadic glances towards symphonic and power-metal, Dogma’s musical gigantism is the name of the game throughout, as a significant boon to everything that comes their way. The lounge interlude on Free Yourself could so easily be an embarrassing grind to a halt, but Dogma’s boldness and cheap-and-cheerful likability can rescue a lot. It’s all about big, unsubtle brazenness, executed with flawless intent.
Because, let’s face it—in a concept like this, of nuns forgoing their religious diktat to embrace the liberation and freedom of being women, subtlety is a concept that’s not even on the table. When you’ve got titles like Forbidden Zone and Carnal Liberation, or the line on the WLW anthem Make Her Mine, “rubbing scissors in the dark”, you’ve practically forfeited your right to tremendous depth. Of course, that’s entirely the point, in how excising inhibitions to regain an oversized sense purpose as a human being couldn’t gel more firmly with its just-as-towering sound. In this dogma, indulgence is to be embraced, not shunned away. Thus, the fun, fire-spitting glory extolled at every turn is exactly as raucous as it should be, ‘depth’ or ‘nuance’ be damned.
At the end of the day, there’ll always be a place for music that simply wants to be this emboldened by its own being, even if it feels like the exact space it’s supposed to occupy has been taken up. Yes, Dogma might have been beaten to the punch, but when the Ghost well is nowhere close to drying out yet, there’s no need to hoard the contents all for themselves. Dogma are just as attuned to their own sense of vigour, in a way that defines this album to make it shine all the brighter. Even if there’s nothing strictly new to be found, the goldmine of pure-strain enjoyment can carry it perfectly well.
For fans of: Ghost, The Pretty Reckless, Dorothy
‘Dogma’ by Dogma is released on 17th November on MNRK Heavy.
Words by Luke Nuttall