posted on 12/2012 By:
When it comes to maintaining the brittle balance between drawing from the fountainhead and pushing beyond the familiar waters, many newer death metal bands could learn a thing or two from Norway’s Diskord. Indeed, while there is hardly a measuring stick that indicates the perfect distance between the apple and the trunk, Dystopics, the trio’s second full-length effort, is a textbook example of how to mix the familiar with the fresh, resulting in something that doesn’t just wobble along in the footsteps of the genre’s household names, but, instead, picks up where they left off − if only for a short distance.
This, subsequently, leads to music that is easy to categorize (make no mistake, this is death metal almost in its purest form) yet hard to describe with the help of name-dropping. If you ask me, Diskord sounds a bit like early Atheist and Autopsy plummeting into the same wormhole – the exit of which is Satan’s ass – and then being reincarnated on the other side as multi-instrumentalist Siamese twins. Well, come to think of it, that doesn’t really sound like anything, other than extremely fucking stupid. Be that as it may, Dystopics certainly harkens back to death metal’s formative years from late 80s to early 90s, when songwriting was as loose as emancipated women and the level of musicianship high as the coke-fueled yuppie predators of those streetwalking suffragettes. But, as already stated, that’s really only one side of the truth, because Diskord also has a way of putting their own spin to the old school death metal template which they consequently pervert beyond recognition. And it‘s this adventurousness that ultimately renders their exact reference material untraceable and, most importantly, makes them sound interesting and unique.
The album contains little in terms of dominating elements. The band rather seems to pick up alleles from extreme metal’s gene pool and then strews them all over the linear compositions as they see fit. The first thing that probably catches one’s ear is the heavy use of doomy passages that sway from subtle Autopsy leanings (for example the groovy piece of riff that kicks in around the 00:47 mark in “As the Circus Leaves the Galaxy”) to borderline Unholy worship (the first minute of “Epochal”). This slow-to-mid-tempo battering is always used for steering the songs into or out of the manic death metal that constitutes the rest of the compositions. The aforementioned give-and-take is probably best exemplified in the outright magnificent “Overseer”, a song that switches different between moods, tempos and time signatures (including the weirdest fucking combination of an ever-evolving, caveman-like breakdown and serpentine bass-guitar wankery) without any noticeable transitions. In a nutshell, all the compositions that make up Dystopics could be described as organisms that − upon their first gulp of air − start growing recklessly by branching into all the imaginable directions and beyond, and finally kick the bucket when you least expect them to.
The end result may sound a bit wacky and it certainly is, but not in that grating, more-disorganized-than-20-pairs-of-socks kind of way. A lot of it has to do with the fact that Diskord keeps the songs short than sweet (the longest piece, “Primitive Doom”, clocks in at 5:19), but that’s not to say that this approach wouldn’t work with more epic song lengths, because the album is also somehow instantly memorable. The compositions – despite their lack of structure – make perfect sense from the get-go and there shouldn’t be anything impossible to decipher in the riff department, if this isn’t your first encounter with death metal.
Overall, with such high-quality work as Dystopics, it’s hard to come up with legit complaints. Maybe the guitars might sound a bit too thin for some of the album’s heavier parts, but, on the other hand, the production job also nicely accentuates the general atmosphere of the music, the madness of which is more contemplative and introverted than belligerent in nature. I do feel, though, that Dystopics is not yet Diskord’s Gesammwerk, because it lacks the mind-blowing quality that separates the desert island albums from those that are “only” insanely good. In that sense, Dystopics would be comparable (keeping in mind the vast stylistic differences) to records such as Excoriate’s On Pestilent Winds… or Degial’s debut full-length from this year, i.e. albums that capture a band with first-tier talent not yet necessarily in full bloom. As such, I’ll still file this one under “recommended”.
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