Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dissonance In Design – Sentient Review (2013)

Dissonance In Design
Album:  Sentient
Genre:  Progressive/Melodic Death Metal/Technical Deathcore

Thanks to the kindness of one of my friends who’d gotten their hands on a review copy from Tragic Hero, I’ve had Erra’s album “Augment” for a couple weeks now, and it is every bit as amazing as we’d hoped, as many of you guys now know.  Lyrical perfection (as we’d expect), deep, textured, emotive atmosphere, and unexpectedly heavy moments.  That being said, since Erra is one of my absolute favorite bands of all time, it takes a LOT to get me to stop listening to it.  However, Dissonance In Design have accomplished that, and then some, with their newest masterpiece known simply as Sentient.  In this review, I’ll do my best not to go track-by-track (as tempting as that is), because every single track, while great on its own, is best digested as part of a whole.

Let’s start from the beginning:  apart from a few select moments, this album sounds pretty much NOTHING like DiD’s first effort “Neurotransmitting an Epiphany”.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved that album, but Sentient sees Dissonance stepping up their game in pretty much every conceivable aspect of their music – the vocals, the lyrics (!!!), the technicality and composition on all instruments, the immersive atmosphere, the crisp production, and the list goes on from there.  If you manage to get through this album without at least a dozen lyrics and riffs drilled so deep into your head that you’ve hit oil, I’m pretty sure you need your ears checked.

Upon seeing the brilliantly-rendered and eyecatching album art penned by the singular Ken Sarafin at Sarafin Concepts, one would think that Sentient is just another spacey death metal/deathcore album, but there is so much more to “see” lyrically.  The album is based on an alien invasion, true, but upon invading, the aliens do not simply destroy earth – they find that Man’s souls are tragically impure, and because of the atrocities which Man has committed, we are not worthy of the gift of life.  In the track “Absolution”, one of the invaders comes to the realization that “As your souls become one with me, so do your emotions, and so do your memories…And they weigh heavily upon my heart – it’s almost more than I can bear, yet I must go on, because this crusade has only just begun...”.  After the invaders have extracted our souls, they decide to spare the universe of the pain we create by recycling us back into the universe to be used by beings much more deserving than we.  In addition to some of the best shrieking highs you’ll hear (it sounds like he eats glass shard cereal for breakfast), Dissonance In Design’s storytelling through their lyrics portend shifts in the epic battle for humanity’s soul – and the accompanying mood shifts in the music – are each nothing short of extraordinary, somewhat evocative of Greek tragedies of old, with the cathartic feelings the listener develops for the supposed antagonists of their tale.

As far as the music goes, you can expect a very wide mixture of influences, drawing heavily from Vale Of Pnath-esque melodic death metal laden with memorable fretwork, Harvest Wombs-era Fallujah-esque atmosphere, some moments reminiscent of The Ocean’s more reflective passages, and others with unpredictable mood and tempo-shifts that keep you on your toes as might a Between The Buried And Me album.  Dissonance In Design weave a sprawling, variegated tapestry with each track (here in particular, note my favorite track “…Between Space And Time”, “Entwined In Aether”, and “Absolution”), using as their thread a dizzying array of rapid-fire catchy riffs that’ll have you pumping your fist and banging your head for long after the final roar.  The basslines aren’t just audible, but thoroughly impressive from a technical standpoint.  Drummers, too, will get a thrill out of some of the flurries of intricate fill work done by Zac Patuto (see about 1:30 into “Entwined In Aether”), but mostly the percussion section opts to complement the rest of the music as a whole.

Sentient was produced by Dave Otero, whose previous credits include Cattle Decapitation, The Breathing Process, Allegaeon, so you know the album sounds worlds better than DiD’s first album, which was really one of their main weaknesses.  The atmosphere is entirely immersive, and as their manager told me they were going for, DiD have truly created an “experience” with this album.  All-in-all, the elements of Sentient combine for a nuanced, teeth-shatteringly brutal musical endeavor that will surely tantalize even the most discerning of deathcore/death metal fans.  Don’t miss out on what will probably be one of my top 5-10 albums of 2013!


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