By: Andy Price
Dysrhythmia | website | facebook | bandcamp |
Released on September 23, 2016 via Profound Lore Records
I have played music now for about 15 years, in various guises. Now, I’m not going to kid myself that I’m any kind of genius – I’m really not – but I’m not a slouch either. Playing music has given me a love of technical music and a true appreciation of musicians totally in control of their instruments, as an extension of this, listening to the average Dysrhythmia record is a bit like a masterclass.
Dysrhythmia are named after a medical complaint caused by an abnormality in a physiological rhythm, and this feels totally appropriate for a band that plays with rhythms and time signatures as if they were children’s toys. The band formed in 1998 and have consistently astonished over the course of six albums of instrumental genius, rooting their sound in metal, but taking heavy doses of prog, free jazz and avant-garde and blending them together to make a tasty cocktail of heady musicality. The Veil of Control is album number seven and it finds no significant deviation in the template, the same dizzying technicality on display and the same intelligent use of pace and aggression.
It’s an overwhelming record to experience, and the band sensibly keep the running time down to 36 minutes, with most of the six tracks running to about 5 minutes in length, reasonably concise for this genre. Opener ‘The Veil of Control’ comes out of the gates strong, all pounding rhythms and blast beats. The latter is unusual for Dysrhythmia, but very welcome. As a technique it isn’t overused, so there’s no chance the band will turn into a black metal band any time soon; this is probably more a symptom of Kevin Hufnagel and Colin Marston’s ‘other’ project Gorguts. It’s a frenetic opener, with time signatures a-gogo, and a lovely recurring guitar motif that is twisted beyond all recognition across the course of the song. Like all of Dysrhythmias back catalogue, this album has been recorded live with minimal overdubs, and the level of precision on display here is simply fantastic. The song builds to a suitably bombastic climax in a swirl of feedback. ‘Internal / Eternal’ starts with a hammer-on frenzy with almost King Crimson style riffing and minimal drumming before Jeff Eber really opens out on the drum fills and some jazzy improv. There’s a wider, more open feel to this song than the previous one, with the midsection feeling a little more like a more prog version of Russian Circles than anything else. It is far less aggressive than the opener and a welcome almost light touch. The pace increases for the final movement of the song, building scale before abruptly ending.
‘Black Memory’ is a piece of progressive genius, anchored on Ebers’ fantastic drumming and some almost sci-fi sounding riffage. The pounding blastbeats make a reappearance at the mid-point of the song; these are used to build an almost Stockholm Syndrome relationship with pace, such that when a big, slow syncopated riff appears it is shocking. Toying with listener perception is something that Dysrhythmia thrive on, and ‘Selective Abstraction’ is no different, taking the listener down several carefully crafted blind alleys. The overall effect is dizzying and almost confusing, such that when a big lumbering riff appears at the mid-point, it’s almost a relief; even then the structure of this riff is not exactly standard. The magic of this album, though, is that the whole thing makes sense. Nothing feels out of place, and while on occasion it does skate reasonably close to wankery, the band never actually cross the border. There is a natural flow and structure to these songs that feels ‘right’ to the listener – to this one at least – and this makes the album as a whole enjoyable. However many left turns or diversions are taken, we’re never far from an anchor point that brings us back in.
Crowning achievement for the album is nine minute long closer ‘When When’s End’. It takes the Dysrhythmia template and allows it to breathe. There are some staggering intricacies, some immense hard stops and off-kilter rhythms, but also some open, almost jazzy chord progressions that counterpoint the technicalities perfectly.
As a whole the record manages the feat of almost glacial, gleaming technicality, but with a warmth and humanity that keeps the listener engaged. It is a record that is unlikely to trouble the top of the charts, but has, dare I say it, a charm to it that begs repeat listening, and a depth that means that you’ll get something new from each spin. If you like your metal technical and progressive and don’t miss a vocal contribution, then you’re in for a treat.