DRONN / Servants of Onu

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Dronn, the dungeon wave side-project of Atlanta's Gregorio Franco, recently released a new full length. Servants of Onu is in an interesting position...on the surface it's absolutely nothing like the bombastic dark synth that Franco leads with. But, at the same time, Dronn is so well realized and finely crafted, it seems unfair at this point to call it a side-project. "Side-project" implies something one does in their spare time, less attention paid, and not a serious focus. Just something to do for fun, right? Dronn doesn't appear to be any of those things, and with Servants of Onu, Franco may have just crafted one of his finest works to date.

I'm going to set aside my normal review style for this album and instead create a scene for you where this album finds itself as the soundtrack. Think of it as an interactive way to interpret the album. I once had an absolutely horrifying dream that seemed so real that I could, to this day, describe every detail of everything that I saw. The second I hit play on Servants of Onu I was transported back to this dream. It's almost as if the music was pulled out of this very private and stark experience that I had, sending chills up and down my entire body. 

In this dream I was driving along a country road that I'd travelled many times before, except this time I noticed an old church off in the distance, tucked into the middle of a forest in the distance. I'd not noticed it before, because as I mentioned before, in the dream I'm convinced this is very real. I take a few left turns and find my way to a left strewn dirt track that leads through a copse of trees. Sure enough, this ends up being the way into the clearing that contains what I seem to know in my mind is The White Church.

The building is indeed a white structure, seeming to pull from many architecture styles. The one thing that I can see immediately is that it is old. Very old. Large arched stained-glass windows stretch up the walls in hues of red and black...the only colors that break the white of the church itself. I know to my core that there is something wrong...something off...about this place, but I don't know what at this point. I can't figure out what denomination the church belongs to...with most having their own style...I find this to be most puzzling. 

I make a circuit around the building and find an open garden type area filled with round wooden poles driven into the ground at differintiating heights. Imagine power poles that only stick 2 to 4 feet out of ground and you've got an idea of what I'm talking about. There is a pattern to their layout but I can't make it out from where I'm at. The silence of the opening is deafening and makes me uncomfortable enough to leave my curiosity where it is and move along. As I move around the far side of the church I discover that the wall here is nothing but relief work, like something you'd see at Orvietto Cathedral. Half human, half animal creatures are using spears to drive people like cattle into giant pits. Robed figures stand atop a pile of trampled corpses. Terrible stuff. It's at this point I know that while the church may be white, it's heart is very, very black. It's time to go. Now!

As panic sets in I try to make my way around the church, back to the entrance I found through the trees. When I reach the main entrance to the church I find that not only is my car gone, the copse of trees has closed up and the dirt path out is gone. This is when I notice the music. A pipe organ from within the church starts playing something you'd only expect from the blackest of masses. Without seeing anyone else, I know that I'm not alone. The church is filled and they're about to come out the ornate wooden doors before me. I didn't want to see what would come through those doors...in fact I knew with a certainty that I shouldn't see what came through those doors. I fled through the trees and eventually made my way back to the main road. This is when I woke up and realized it had all been a dream. Turns out they were probably Servants of Onu and waking up probably saved my life, haha!

I know that this hasn't been your normal album review, and I apologize if it threw some of you off. The reason that I shared this dream is because if an album can bring up memories like this, can stir up the same emotions that this almost living nightmare gave me, then how could I not express my wonder at its existence in the very real world that we are living in? I don't know how I could give Dronn, or the mastermind behind this masterpiece of darkness, Gregorio Franco, a bigger compliment. His album literally scares me! Kudos, and keep up the good work!!! 

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Scariest album of the year? You betcha! Also the most hauntingly beautiful? Also, a big yes.

James Mitchell