From the Vaült – Dope’s “Life”
Like all other genres, nu metal had different tiers. But which bands fall under which tier?
The first tier were the top bands. The bands that headlined festivals, made the most money, and received the most attention. We could probably all agree that bands like Korn, Disturbed, Godsmack, Rob Zombie, Slipknot, and System Of A Down would fit into this tier.
The second tier would be bands that had a decent amount of attention, but weren’t quite household names. I mean, if people talked about nu metal in their houses. These bands would play one of the earlier slots on the main stage at Ozzfest and get a mention on the cover of Kerrang or Circus. They had some notoriety, but wouldn’t dominate the t-shirts of the weirdos hanging outside of Hot Topic. Bands like Mudvayne, Soulfly, Sevendust, and Papa Roach.
It’s the third and fourth tier where things start to get a little muddy. Maybe you’ve heard of the name or can kind of sing the chorus to the single, but can’t really remember much more. Bands like Ill Nino, Cold, Spineshank, Nonpoint, and Mushroomhead.
When you get into the fourth tier of nu metal, you’ll find bands like Pushmonkey, Unloco, Page 999, Motograter, Know Ethix, Depswa, Apartment 26, Endo, No One, Sw1tched, and SoundLife. I made up a few of those band names, but I can guarantee that some people won’t be able to guess which ones are fake. That’s the quality of music.
Today’s edition of From The Vault focuses on a band that fits somewhere between the third and fourth tier: Dope. Yeah, you’ve probably heard the name before, but might not be able to place it. Let’s do a little multiple choice and see if you can guess the true “fact” about the band:
a) A band that featured 2 brothers with “Dope” as their last name.
b) A former band of the guy from Static–X that spent a year in jail for having sex with a 14 year-old in a parking lot.
c) A band with clever song titles like “Die MF Die”, “Shit Life”, “Bitch” and “Die Boom Bang Fuck.”
d) A band that covered N.W.A‘s “Fuck Tha Police.”
e) All of the above.
If you chose “E” then congratulations. I guess.
Believe it or not, Dope has released 5 albums, but their most well-known is “Life”. Life actually made it onto the Billboard Top 200 and Number 6 on the Heatseekers chart back when that still actually kind of meant something. Another amazing fact is that, to date, this album has sold over 70,000 copies. There are plenty of “internet famous” metal bands today that would kill for ½ of those album sales. Say what you will about nu-metal, but people used to pay money to listen to it. Shockingly, Dope never appeared on Ozzfest. Somewhere, Slaves On Dope (NSFW, awesome nu-metal bewbs) are laughing.
Dope’s music can best be described as “angsty bedroom-metal for teens that think Marilyn Manson is industrial music”. Vocalist/band namesake Edsel Dope’s voice is unique in the sense that“sounding like you constantly have a head-cold” is different from everyone else. I’d say that the appreciation of his vocals fall into two groups: “People who hate it” and “people who tolerate it.” The guitars and drums are pretty much what you would expect from this era. Most riffs could probably fit under our Whiff o’ the Week. There are keys and samples, which help break up the monotony. When you can actually hear them, of course.
The album has two stand-out tracks, but for vastly different reasons. “Now or Never” is the closest thing that Dope ever had to an actual hit. They had a video for it and everything, complete with jumping, black clothes, stupid hair, and people far too pretty to be at a Dope concert.
The song is fairly catchy, hitting the pre-chorus right around 30 seconds. Got to get to the sing-along parts as fast as possible. Admittedly, it’s a pretty catchy chorus with simple lyrics and melody that easily get stuck in your head. It’s as if a real producer took them aside and said, “I only have 5 minutes. Do this, this, and this and you’ll have a hit.” When Nine Inch Nails’ “We’re In This Together” is too expensive to procure the rights for your action movie, use this song. It’s perfect for the trailer.
The other standout on Life is “Die MF Die”. Want to take a guess what the “MF” stands for? It’s definitely not “Monkey Fun” or “Mercyful Fate.”
Listen to those drums! It’s like someone pawed through Lars Ulrich’s trash and picked out the snare with the biggest hole in it. Upon further inspection, the music actually sounds somewhat similar to Sepultura’s “Roots Bloody Roots”. If you’re going to rip off Sepultura, at least rip off one of their better songs. The real key to this song, though, is the lyrics. Here’s a sample of this modern-day Shakespeare:
“I don’t need your forgiveness
I don’t need your hate
I don’t need your acceptance
So what should I do
I don’t need your resistance
I don’t need your prayers
I don’t need your religion
I don’t need a thing from you
I don’t do what I’ve been told
You’re so lame why don’t you
Die mother fucker die mother fucker die”
If you found that scrawled inside a high school sophomore’s notebook, you’d leave an anonymous tip with the local police department. The rest of the album is pretty much the same, with varying degrees of “success.”
In 2001, Dope’s “Life” managed to fit in with similar acts that straddled the line between hard rock and industrial. Most of the songs are straight fastballs with simple riffs and even simpler lyrics. Today, Life comes off as a relic from a different time, one that we can all look back at, shake our heads and say, “Well, I guess that happened.”
It may come as a surprise, but Dope is back with the promise (threat?) of a new album soon. Just this week, they premiered a new video, I guess because dying genres still use dying mediums to get their music out to the public. Their website is still active as is Edsel Dope’s Twitter. Holy crap on cracked wheat, Edsel Dope has 39.4k followers? He could be a Kardashian brother with those numbers. Dope is also playing Russia at the end of September. Hopefully the Russians like their brand of metal better than Behemoth. Perhaps “Die MF Die” can bridge the divide between Russian and Ukraine, bringing both nations together in an everlasting peace.
To paraphrase Ned Flanders, “Godspeed, little Dope.”
You can listen to “Life” by Dope in it’s entirety here.