‘The Journey To Yourself Is Never Finished’: How DOOL Found Their Voice On ‘The Shape of Fluidity’

‘The Journey To Yourself Is Never Finished’: How DOOL Found Their Voice On ‘The Shape of Fluidity’

- By Jon Garcia

Raven van Dorst tells Knotfest about the deep, dark journey to know themselves, and how it powered the Dutch rockers spectacular new album.

Photo by David Fitt

Rotterdam dark rock ensemble DOOL – pronounced “duhl” – have been a growing tempest in European music circles over the last several years.

Combining mystical elements of goth, progressive and post-rock with weightier incantations of heavy metal, doom and psychedelia, DOOL first gained wider attention through a performance at their country’s premiere heavy music festival, Roadburn, in 2016.

Since then, their ascent has been contained only by the unfortunate timing of a global pandemic. After a successful debut album, DOOL released its follow-up in 2020 just weeks after the world shut down, torpedoing any hopes they had to give it proper support.

Now, four years later, the Dutch quintet are poised to release their most consequential and fully realized record to date; one that also shines an intensely personal spotlight on frontperson Raven van Dorst. The Shape of Fluidity is one of 2024’s best albums, and sees DOOL stepping into everything they are.

“I think on this album, in many different ways on many different levels, we found our voice and found ourselves,” they said.

At its core, The Shape of Fluidity is about the ever-changing nature of the self. It’s a representation of growth and identity; a nod to the band’s collaborative evolution as well as van Dorst’s experience of coming out as non-binary.



“I think I also evolved over the past couple of years,” van Dorst said. “You can hear that in the lyrics mostly because, not only was I creatively depressed during COVID, I also was confronted with my own nature in this time period. I went through a deep, dark, long journey to know myself.”

Born intersex, doctors chose which gender van Dorst should be and surgically assigned them to live as a female. They tried their entire life to fit into a feminine box before recently deciding to break beyond gender norms, reclaim that which others took away from them, and to “finally embrace their hermaphroditic nature.”

While they’re finding more comfort in their current self, van Dorst knows this is only the early stages of a new era.

“The journey to yourself is never finished anyway, for no one,” they said. “The water keeps flowing and you have to just go with it. I hope I get to see good places in my life and in my mind.”


Formed in the Netherlands in 2015, DOOL is a Dutch word that roughly translates to “wanderers.” Van Dorst is joined by guitarists Nick Polak and Omar Iskandr, bassist JB van der Wal and drummer Vincent Kreyder.

After introducing themselves to the world with 2017’s Here Now, There Then – which earned Best Debut Album accolades from Metal Hammer Germany – DOOL’s spectacular sophomore album Summerland fell victim to the vacuous void of early pandemic hysteria.

Still, the quality of the album would not be denied and it spread through the underground, but it took over two years before those songs saw life on stage. For a band that writes their music to be experienced in person, it was an excruciating blow.

“That was a really shitty time for us as a band, obviously,” van Dorst said. “It cost us a lot of energy to get back out there and get creative again. We thrive on stage. We have a live energy and [when] we're on stage, we're serious. We're for real. We want to dive into that music, into that energy. We want to disappear, you know? We want to transcend.”

The lack of live shows sent van Dorst into a creative depression. They’d written nearly all of DOOL’s previous material by themselves, and with the mounting questions about their identity the thought of creating seemed an insurmountable task.



But while van Dorst was suffering, guitarists Polak and Iskandr used their time to start contributing more of their own parts to the band. The guitarists sent van Dorst riffs and encouraged everyone to write together and really helped get the ball rolling on the new album.

“[Nick and Omar] really took initiative and have a lot of confidence now,” van Dorst said. “They understand where we want to go as a band. They got me enthusiastic for music again. It’s a whole different approach to DOOL now on The Shape of Fluidity. You can hear lots of different musical styles, different guitar styles, and it's on their part that they wrote a lot of this stuff.”

The evolved sound is immediately apparent on lead single “Hermagorgon.” Hefty walls of deliberate guitar pull the listener into their hypnotic current, before yielding to van Dorst’s delicate voice. The song rises and falls with waves of emotion, showcasing DOOL’s supernatural ability to manipulate sound.

DOOL is an entity, born from a coalescence of five musical minds and meant to be experienced live. Collaborating from the beginning of this album cycle allowed the band more musical freedom to transport themselves into the songs, as did working with Kreyder for the first time.

“Making music… it's like you're sharing energy together,” van Dorst said. “Anything can happen in that energy. We always try to leave a little bit open for imagination and for… I don't know. Magic, maybe?”

‘The Water Flows in Many Ways’

In addition to their musical influence, Polak and Iskandr’s contributions also had a domino affect on how van Dorst approached the lyrics and paved the way for the album taking a personal and cathartic turn.

“Since there was someone else taking a lot of initiative, I had some more freedom and I got more intuitive in the lyrics,” van Dorst said. “I think it just came, this journey that I went through just a couple months before. It's like it had to get out. So it came a bit natural this time instead of overthinking a lot.

“That's when we realized this might be the time to start singing about that theme, which had me in its grasp for all my life now.”

Van Dorst is an accomplished musician, but most in the Netherlands know them for their work as a TV personality and presenter. While hosting a show in 2017, they made their first public statement about being born intersex. The program examined different forms of gender expression and identity, and van Dorst felt it important – as well as freeing – to broach the subject and make it less taboo.



Life moved on. Van Dorst kept working in front of the camera and DOOL gained more and more attention from both inside and outside the Netherlands. But van Dorst’s journey wasn’t complete, and it became harder and harder for them to feel comfortable confined only into a feminine box.

On May 5, 2021, van Dorst officially came out as non-binary in a social media post, introducing themselves as Raven.

“It's time to finally step out of that feminine straitjacket,” they said. “I want to be the person I should have been when I was born, before I was tampered with. There is nothing wrong with that at all.

“I want to give myself the space to look for a form of being that feels good to me. Outside the binary system that most of society is structured with. … I want to enter the next part of my life without being forced into boxes. And that starts with a new name.”

It’s been a weight off their shoulders, even though they wish they would have taken this step earlier.

“Even though I think that I'm a pretty open minded, no nonsense, straightforward person who does what they want, I still waited a long time to break out of this whole binary thing,” van Dorst said. “Even though I feel like other people's opinions don't really matter to me, I think I was always a bit afraid of [what] the reactions would be if I would have undergone this journey a bit earlier. I guess that it just wasn't the right moment yet. Or I was just too busy with the rest of my life and keeping myself occupied and ignoring the fact that I wasn't really who I wanted to be.

“In that sense, I think that when the whole world came to a stop during the pandemic, I had to face myself.”

Gather under the flag of DOOL

As The Shape of Fluidity nears its release, DOOL is preparing for their first show of the year: a homecoming of sorts at Roadburn 2024 where they’ll unveil The Shape of Fluidity in its entirety for the first time.

Van Dorst expects the show to be emotional. It’s been a long time since they were last on stage, it will be Kreyder’s first performance with the band, and the band has a special attachment to the eclectic festival.

“Doing your release show at Roadburn is super special,” they said. “I could even say that I'm a bit nervous for it, because it's my favorite festival. They manage to find new artists that break boundaries. You can embrace them fully right away even if you haven't heard of them yet. They're doing a great job making music for everyone, more inclusive and broader.”

That inclusion is of particular significance for DOOL, and van Dorst points to the flag on the album’s cover as the ultimate symbol of what the record and the band have become.

“It sums up the message [of the album] perfectly,” van Dorst said of the art by renowned French artist Valnoir (Metastazis). “There's this transparent flag. It's ice with water like it’s thawing, or maybe it's freezing – we don't know. But there’s nothing on the flag, and tomorrow the flag can be totally different.”

It was important for DOOL to have a symbol. A beacon to those lost in the world, looking for someone to relate with what they’re going through. Something welcoming and inclusive.

“We all like to gather under flags,” they said. “A rainbow flag, the flag of your country, the flag of your favorite football or soccer club. You feel connected to a flag, and I think that the flag of DOOL is empty. It's changing and moving, and everyone is welcome.”

Most importantly, van Dorst hopes the album can be a light in the darkness for those that feel lost. They want those that are questioning any part of themselves to know that they are not alone.

“Everyone is going through shit,” they said. “You shouldn't be ashamed if you don't know where you belong, or where you came from or where you’re going. I mean, everybody is dealing with that.

“I hope that this album can give people a little place to go to if they lost track or if they feel alone.”

Shape of Fluidity is available April 19 via Prophecy Productions - Order the album - HERE.

DOOL Performs at Roadburn April 19th - get more details on the release performance - HERE. See additional live dates and cities below. 


19 APR 2024 Tilburg (NL) Roadburn Fest
02 MAY 2024 Rotterdam (NL) Annabel
04 MAY 2024 Antwerpen (BE) Trix
05 MAY 2024 Haarlem (NL) Bevrijdingsfestival
24 MAY 2024 Hoogeveen (NL) Graveland Fest
01 JUN 2024 Haarle (NL) Dauwpop
05 JUN 2024 Dresden (DE) Chemiefabrik
06 JUN 2024 Gdansk (PL) Mystic Fest
07 JUN 2024 Praha (CZ) Klub Modra Vopice
22 JUN 2024 Bourlon (FR) Rock in Bourlon
23 JUN 2024 Pinkpop (NL) Landgraaf
28 JUN 2024 Vivero (ES) Resurrection Fest
30 JUN 2024 Clisson (FR) Hellfest
20 JUL 2024 Lichtenvoorde (NÖL) Zwarte Cross
27 JUL 2024 Osterholz-Scharmbeck (DE) Burning Q Festival
30 JUL 2024 Rillaar (BE) Down the Hill
03 AUG 2024 Gränichen (DE) Open Air Gränichen
6-8 SEP 2024 Balve (DE) Prophecy Fest
02 NOV 2024 Manchester (UK) Damnation Fest
16 NOV 2024 Eindhoven (NL) Helldorado
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