Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Diskord - Oscillations EP (2014)

Diskord's musical palette might not always prove as vivid and splashy as their choices in cover artwork, but they are certainly left of center when compared to the majority of the retro death metal currently trending everywhere, without lapsing into the excessive self-indulgence employed by a lot of the cutting edge tech death outfits. Their sophomore album Dystopics was an improvement over its predecessor Doomscapes in several departments, most notably the stickiness of individual, insane riffing sequences, and this new Oscillations EP out through Hellthrasher Productions tends to follow that pattern, with solid songwriting and a few clever surprises awaiting those that can wrap their heads around it.

Norway does not have an extensive history of death metal, perhaps, but they've always been a go to for unusual artists like Molested in the 90s, or Obliteration's last two full-lengths. But at the heart of Diskord's jilted and jarring aesthetics, I found a sound most comparable to 80s dystopian sci-fi thrash and speed metal bands like Canada's Voivod and DBC, only embedded into a more brutal disposition involving both traditional death metal and spurts of grindcore chords which keep the material moving forward and always on the edge of control. Curious, jazzy bass lines support a contrast of both crude and exotic patterns...the trio seems to know just when to shift between the exotic and mainline mode, and so the result here is something that might damn well appeal to fanatics of spazz-core or uncanny metalpunk just as much as those who want their death metal constructed from an unusual, musically proficient perspective. I mean, sure, I could tell you that this has a few traces of Gorguts' Obscura, Demilich's Nespithe or Carbonized's Screaming Machines, but they might necessarily be conscious decisions...

Of course, it's 2014, you can barely explore a fretboard or chord relationships without treading on some familiar ground, but at least a few bands like this are trying. More often than not, Diskord are succeeding, with enough variation and exciting riff structure that I must have spun this a half dozen times before even thinking about typing a key. Zany without going too far overboard that the listener cannot readily digest the material through his/her ears, I enjoyed a lot of the band's breakpoints and 'calmer moments' which would inevitably explode into a carnival of punishment. Hans Ersvik's vocal lines have a strangely nihilistic bark which at times reminds me of Satyr, but at others older David Vincent and maybe even a little of van Drunen's style on Pestilence's Mallevs Maleficarvm, sans that more grotesque and clinical tone. Considering his drumming talents, this is actually something I'd really like to see pulled off live, but that's not to take away from the other two members who are even more impressive due to the warped and colliding patterns they spawn.

I did feel that the EP was slightly backloaded with its better material, the closing trio of "Elystrous Oscillations", "Symbiotic Whims" and "A Downward Spire" some of my favorite tunes the group has released to date, but it's all equally impressive for anyone who enjoyed Dystopics. I also would point out how they imbue this all with a very natural production; unlike the more brickwalled tech death bands invested in studio modernity, these guys sound like it all sprung straight from a jam room and was put to tape and dusted off with some post-work. I think it's that feel which will allow for a lot of more traditional death metal types to become interested in their sound rather than intimidated or outright opposed to what they're creating. But as someone who enjoys both extremes in the genre, I found this a great balance of components that aren't entirely unique independent of one another, but once combines give the Norwegians some desperately needed personality among a field of more overt impersonators that no one will give a shit about next year.

Verdict: Win [8/10]

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