There must be something in the water in Denver. Something heavy, metallic and contrary to common belief, appealing to the senses and very good for you.
One of these things is the progressive death metal outfit Dissonance in Design; who release the first L.P “Sentient”, this Month.
I have been eagerly awaiting this release ever since I heard their first effort- the independently released E.P “Neurotransmitting an Epiphany”, last year. This taster of well crafted, clever, death metal anthems with a real unique edge piqued my interest and made me sit up and take notice.
Now Dissonance in Design are back. What you could have labelled as a garage dream duo are now a Powerhouse 5 piece. Their ranks being Bolstered by Stevie Bosier (vox) and Vance Velenzuela (guitar) from Vale of Pnath and Nema Sobhani (bass).
What they have returned with is Sentient, a concept album of inter-dimensional investigation and warfare. From the swirling guitar sweep of the opening track it is obvious that this is a band with resolute confidence in itself. Using their abundant musical ability; these young men are able to lead you through areas where your steps may falter, but theirs never do; sure in their skill as prescient guides over an incredible sonic landscape.
Yes, this is concept album, which some may not appreciate, but this record is a display of rarefied musical storytelling, with a breadth of melodic facility augmented through crisp, clean, un-cliched playing. The story that DiD tell here is told with a remarkable musical palate. Creating in my mind as I listened a genuine eeriness, a palpable fear; sensation not experienced by me since I first let King Diamond tell me tales of his twisted family.
This achievement is made through a mastery of various elements within their music: an utter control over tempo, in both selection and placement within songs, moved between with a genuine, consummate skill. There is also a level of melodic development that leaves you listening in disbelief that this is a first album by an unsigned band.
On all 7 songs there is a rampant, thoughtful intelligence at play. Like Scale the Summit crossed with Aenimus. Or Tool crafting the tech-death record I always wished they would make; the establishment and powerful advancement of melody is breath-taking. Along with dynamics that flow from passages of effortless strength to lucid and delicate moments of repose. All of the instruments aiding in the push-pull of the listeners attention, throughout these paeans to the destructive capacity of human curiosity, they pluck expertly at both the heart and mind-strings.
The Vocals are a sublime additional thread to this expertly woven narrative. Bosiers voice, a perfect halfway house between a death-metal roar and a black-metal rasp. Multiple styles all employed with a consummately engaging tone, entwine through varied and intuitive phrasing; enticing the ear to listen to the words again and again.
The words are balanced on the razors edge of intelligibility; perfect for those among us who like the story revealed through their own careful attention. The evocation of the Narration and characterful elements is as multifaceted and skilled as any I have ever heard in Metal. Revealing the story between the shadows of impending, ever building doom.
Despite their length, several times stretching towards 10 minutes, they manage to avoid being self-indulgent pieces of music. Everything is a building block that becomes an essential piece in an epic tale. The way that riffs, solos, lyrics, bass and drums entwine, repeat and modulate to form this tale; making it is a true experience and a densely layered pleasure. Well worth taking time to get to know.
This is first and foremost a modern metal album; with muscular, impeccably played riffs; as fast and as shred-heavy as anything in modern death metal, coupled seamlessly with inventive and melodious bass-lines that weave in and out of the guitar and when the songs require, sliding forward to take the phrase and move it on. Killer drumming coiling like a powerful snake around riff and riff, limitless and fecund in its invention and execution. Dissonance in Design have managed to make a record that you can get lost in. Technical and adventurous, yet never over-playing any hand. Music and themes combining to beguile, bewitch and entrance the mind.
It might not be your thing if you want Slam and utter brutality from your death metal. There are no pig squeals and the breakdowns are not designed to energise the Hardcore arm-swingers among us. There is death and destruction but not of the gore-filled, anger motivated variety.
This is a great sci-fantasy tale set to music. An ode to the possibilities of existence, bravery, watchfulness and reckless exploration. A record for anyone who ever wanted to be in 2001: A Space Odyssey, for those whose imagination let them play along with Star Wars; who grew up and saw those dreams fade into the midiclorian grey of adulthood. Here is the muso-poetic drama for you to luxuriate in and ruminate upon. A Blade Runner for the ears. Let these young men transport you aurally into new battles; vital for the light they shine on our past and the bravery we need to harvest for the future; to our continued existence. Even though in this story, our curiosity might kill more than just the Cat.
As I said, there must be something in the water in Denver. I, for one, am drinking deep. I think you should too.
– John Whitmore