Friday, May 2, 2014

Review and Interview: Disigma - Disigma EP (2014)

Artist: Disigma
Album: Disigma EP
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Genre: Progressive Metalcore
1. Crows
2. Hatchet
3. A Disconnect (feat. Patrizio Arpaia)
4. Sonder
5. Event Horizon (feat. Shae Portner)

There is a rare vein of music that comes into fruition deep in the mines of progressive and
technical metalcore. Perpetuated by acts like Ion Dissonance and War From a Harlots Mouth,
this small niche is emphasized by mathematically infused breakdown patterns, abrupt riff
transitions, and an overwhelming sense of chaos. The recipe requires not only immense technical
talent, but a generous helping of madness. Live performances of these bands religiously promise
an audience of uncoordinated heads struggling to bob along to the syncopations and polyrhythms.
Though the inaccessibility of this music lies miles from some of the more avant-garde acts out
there, it still mandates an open mind to enjoy. An online comment on Disigma's single 'Throne
Sake' stuck with me; something along the lines of, "You know it's crazy when you can't find the
downbeat." Those well-acquainted with acts like The Locust and PsyOpus will find Disigma
tame by comparison, but don't let that disillusion you; Disigma planted plenty of twists-and-turns
on their latest EP.
Disigma's long anticipated, self-titled EP has been finally been unleashed unto the masses.
Having been teased by several earlier singles, it feels satisfying to hear the Pennsylvania based
duo’s hard work and dedication come into fruition. Spanning close to 18 minutes, the EP is
comprised of 5 previously unreleased songs gleaming in their Drop F glory; an admirable feat,
though I would not have minded the addition of any prior singles. Consisting of a firmly laid
foundation of breakdowns, atmospheric passages, and chaotic intersections of riffs, Disigma
pummel the listener from beginning to end. Emphasizing their passion for musical brutality, the
duo seamlessly weaves a wide array of discordant grooves together. On 'Crows,' tight and
choppy, After the Burial-esque action melts away into an eerie trance of thall. 'Hatchet' sends
hands flying across the fretboard before breaking into hastened, hardcore chugs; simple, yet
haunting, melodies float in the background, conjuring up an atmosphere reminiscent of
Vildhjarta. ‘Event Horizon’ closes the EP with end-of-the-world heaviness, the distant tremolo
picking resembling sirens issuing a state of emergency. If chugs were made of water, this EP
would be a tsunami; it's absolutely laden with them from start to finish, which might be an
immediate turnoff to some. However, every riff is unique and differentiable, with a sense of
nuance and finesse. The pace is restricted to the slower side of the spectrum, but several
moments break free into blasting frenzies. Like a tiger, these segments are exotic and rare, yet
gratifying to witness.
Raw shouts consistently pierce the chaos, adding yet another layer of ferocity. The vocal
style is hardcore in nature, discernible without losing its aggressiveness. Punctuating screams
and growls aid in the assault, though the range is maintained somewhere in the middle. Two of
the EP's tracks feature guest vocals: Patrizio Arpaia of Currents on ‘A Disconnect’ and Shae
Portner of Prime Meridian on ‘Event Horizon.’ Though all vocalists involved are exemplary,
their sharing of a similar vocal style makes it difficult to distinctively pinpoint who's doing what
and where. Regardless, their shouts contribute to the noisy cacophony. The EP's production
exposes every aspect of the band while helping keep the gritty sound that makes it so heavy;
there's no doubt that your house will be trembling with a good pair of speakers. I must commend
the band on the drum programming; subtle ghost notes and well placed hi-hat smacks showcase a
close attention to detail in making the drums as life-like as possible. Acting as the main driving
force, the china fiercely smashes away while the snare pattern remains impossible to follow;
reminding me of that Calculus class I took last year. The instrumentation as a whole is entirely
precise and well polished, demonstrating the amount of effort that went into creating every little
Disigma's first EP is a very promising start to what will hopefully expand into additional
releases. At first listen, one might mindlessly dismiss them as another chug clone; I urge
everyone to pay attention to the details, as these two have painted a chaotic landscape of
unmatched heaviness. Their neck-snapping grooves encompass the push into new depths for this
genre. I look forward to their outside-the-box approach and future material. And yes, earlier, I
shamelessly used thall as a noun.
FFO: Ion Dissonance, Prime Meridian, Frontierer, Car Bomb

Please introduce Disigma's members and their duties in the band.
Josh Mitchell: Disigma started as Cody and I and has solidly remained since. We’ve had some people try out but are still looking for the missing pieces. I take care of writing all the instruments and producing, and Cody does lyrics, patterns and all things vocals.

Did the two of you work together prior to the formation of Disigma? How did the band come into creation?
JM: It’s funny actually, I used to work at a shoe store as a salesman and my boss introduced me to his son’s band, which Cody was the vocalist of. I hooked up with them as the second guitarist until Cody and I broke away. We started a melodic hardcore-ish band called Motives. It was a lot of fun and we played some sick shows but we soon realized we wanted more. We wrote a song in my basement just messing around and ended up really liking it. Cody thought of the name Disigma and it just kind of took off from there.

What are some of your obvious, and not-so-obvious, influences?
JM: This is always a tricky question with us. We like to just write what we like and tend to not worry whether we’ll be compared to other bands. But to answer your question, back when we started I listened to a lot of the up’n comers at the time, Structures, Volumes etc. But also a lot of stuff like From Indian Lakes, Harvard, Empire! Empire!(I Was A Lonely Estate) and This Town Needs Guns. And Trap, lots and lots of trap. Sometimes I hear a lot of trap influences in the melodies I create with Disigma and that’s perfectly fine with me haha.

I have been eagerly anticipating this EP for quite some time; were there any particular difficulties that hindered the final product?
JM: Oh man, so many difficulties. Shortly after we started writing, I moved away to Lancaster for work. It made it really hard to get together and also shrunk my already thin budget. Cody was at school and working too. When I finally moved back I started school and got right back to work. Not having any time really hit us hard, and not only affected the band, but had us starting to drift apart. We’d get together from time to time to write and shoot the shit, but nothing majorly productive ever got done. Finally we decided we had too much potential to let it go to waste and started to rekindle Disigma, and our relationship. Paying for studio time was the next speed bump. We recorded 3 singles at WerleyBird Studios, which by the way if you ever need amazing work done and want to chill with two awesome twin brothers, that is the studio for you. It was never about the quality or the people, we just couldn’t afford it. I started working at Everloft Studios with two lifetime friends and decided to take my basement recording style and kick it up a notch. We started using any and all of the free time we had to get this EP done and we couldn’t be happier with the result.

Tell me about the EP's guest vocals.
JM: The guest spots on the EP are phenomenal. Cody hooked up with Patrizio from Currents through networking with other bands and convinced him to drive up from Connecticut and lay down some killer vocals. I’ve always known of Shae but never really met him until I was in Lancaster. He went to a nearby college and I went to meet him and his roommate Eric. I immediately fell in love with their band Prime Meridian and started writing with them a lot, which also led to me and Eric’s side project Analyst. We’ve always loved Shae’s vocals and knew we wanted him on the EP from the first time we heard them.

The artworks from your singles and EP both contain the motif of a wire entrapped bird - is there any underlying meaning

JM: This is a question best answered by Cody. There is a strong symbolic meaning that Cody can put into words better than I can.
Cody Golob: For the singles and the EP art, the meaning we’d like to portray is a sense of entanglement our souls endure in a world that is blatantly corrupted and controlled. One that tears at our free minds each and every day while we try and break away so we can evolve and move onto the next consciousness, wherever and whatever that may be. Our lyrics are also heavily based on past and current world events that have shaped/are shaping the perception we reside in, most we believe are orchestrated some way or another for a hidden incentive.

The internet loves incessant debate about the genre and classification of music, i.e. "djent." Is Disigma any particular strain of music?
JM: Haha yeah man, take a look at the comments on our other songs, that shit is non-stop. Personally, I love djent, it’s fucking awesome. But out of habit I tend to refer to bands by name now just to avoid the debate. Obviously we have a lot of “djent” influence but to be honest we just write what sounds cool to us, and it just happens to walk along the border of a couple of different styles of music.

Care to provide an equipment rundown for the tech-savvy?
JM: Surely, I use an Ibanez RG8 8 string guitar into the POD HD Pro X. I absolutely love the tones that thing produces, but am definitely looking to upgrade my guitar soon. The POD also serves as a head for live purposes, but we will worry about that when the other members show up.

What should we expect from Disigma in the future?
JM: We are going to roll with the punches for now. There are a few labels that I really look up to and am a huge fan of, but that is really for them to decide if we are something they are looking for. Regardless, we will keep pushing forward and have already started writing material for a full length.

JM: Thall.

Written by Piotr Weiss


1 comment:

Rule number 1: Don't piss and moan.