Dizzy Mizz Lizzy

Alter Echo

Written by: AP on 06/01/2021 18:36:09

Every country has artists that bring generations together, and in Denmark one of these is the post-grunge power trio Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, who returned from a decade-long hiatus in 2010 to regain their position as the country’s most popular rock band. Their comeback album, 2016’s “Forward in Reverse”, was a critical darling, not least because it was built from the exact same DNA that earned their first two records from 1994 and 1996 Danish Grammy awards as well as multi-platinum certifications. It was safe and effective, but in order to ensure their continued relevance and realise their full potential, the three musicians were obviously reluctant to relive their ‘90s smash hits like “Silverflame” and “Waterline” yet again, paving the way for this fourth and latest offering “Alter Echo” to emerge as their most distinctive work to date — the sound of a band unchained.

“Hold on, maybe the best is yet to come”, muses frontman Tim Christensen in a prophetic bit of verse on the album, yet it is hard to imagine how Dizzy Mizz Lizzy should be able to surpass this magnum opus of theirs on any successor to it. Both the noisy, ambient intro piece “Ricochet” and the drawn out opening segment of the first track proper, “In the Blood”, give rise to an inkling that the band might be venturing into uncharted territory, with the languid stomp of drummer Søren Friis’s percussion, and the somber tone of Christensen’s guitar bestowing upon the latter a stoner rocking atmosphere not unlike the trio’s countrymen in the now-defunct Black Book Lodge. It is not a style fans of Dizzy Mizz Lizzy will be accustomed to, yet it sounds unmistakably like them, thanks in no small part to Christensen’s idiosyncratic, instantly recognisable singing, which still sounds like Chris Cornell and Myles Kennedy hybridised into a single voice. It is powerful and emotive, yet also fragile, helping to immortalise the chorus of “In the Blood” as one of the most special Christensen has written to date — both by virtue of his poignant intonation and the orchestral synths that chime in the background, as he affectedly croons:

You oughta know by now / It’s in the veins somehow / If it feels like something comes from nothing now

But while it certainly has a semblance of classic Dizzy’ about it, the grandeur of this chorus borders on the rock operatic, possibly so as to prime the listener for the approaching pivot where the three musicians really let themselves go. “Boy Doom” continues to build the suspense with further lashings of symphonic prog, while “The Middle” offers a dollop of melancholy, spaced out balladry, complete with an excellent guitar solo. And just before the imminent mic drop, the curious choice of a lead single, “California Rain”, provides the one vestige for fans looking for that radio hit, in which clear-cut verses wrap themselves around a strong chorus in faithful ABABCB fashion. But while it is an effective song and would have stood out on any of the band’s first three records, it does feel somewhat misplaced in the context of “Alter Echo”’s darker tone and emphasis on atmosphere. As such, it also produces a stark contrast to the album’s mantlepiece: the 23-minute, five-part “Amelia”, which, according to Christensen, is what happens when no rules are set and the music is allowed to evolve into whatever it wants to be.

It is a masterpiece of progressive rock that instantly hooks the listener in with a beautifully arranged duet between an acoustic guitar melody by Christensen and a sombre bass lead by Martin Nielsen, which then unfurls into the softly sung, heartbreaking opening line: “Has anybody seen Amelia? / Somehow you’re nowhere to be found" in “Part 1: Nothing They Do They Do for You”. The lyrics seem to be deliberately esoteric so as to pique the listener’s curiosity to such an extent, that the 23 minutes the track clocks in never feel like a drag, which is vital, because in order to appreciate the skill of composition behind “Amelia”, one really needs hear it in one sitting. Only this way will one be able to marvel at the finesse with which the five parts segue into one another, and to stand in awe of the juxtapositions between delicate and heavy tones, catchy moments and prismatic jams, and tempered balladry and blazing solo work. It is a song that teeters at the precipice of perfection, and without a doubt one of the very best individual tracks that came out last year.

Often when a veteran rock band stages a comeback, their output tends to be less daring than their past efforts and more geared toward mainstream tastes. And while “Forward in Reverse” from 2016 was far from hostile to the radio waves, with “Alter Echo” it feels like the opposite has happened in Dizzy Mizz Lizzy’s case. It is no secret that Christensen has always been a metal fan, but this is the first time that those muses of his have been allowed to take the spotlight in the band’s music. I have always been endeared by the trio, but their newfound metallic, progressive edge on this new album has made me downright starstruck and left me absolutely convinced that Dizzy Mizz Lizzy belong to Denmark’s rock royalty. And as such, even though 2020 delivered a long litany of excellent records, there is no doubt in my book that “Alter Echo” ranks among the very best of them.


Download: In the Blood, Boy Doom, Amelia - Part 2: The Path of Least Existence, Amelia - Part 4: All Saints Are Sinners
For the fans of: Alter Bridge, Black Book Lodge, Franklin Zoo, Von Hertzen Brothers
Listen: Facebook

Release date 20.03.2020
Sony Music

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