I hear a lot of music which claims to be the heaviest thing since sliced bread. Metal bands are perpetually using the tired cliché of "we are the heaviest thing since..." or "the most brutal band since such and such" to describe their music and frankly, it's getting old. Nine times out ten, most of these bands are no heavier than their contemporaries and their 'heavy' sound is over produced, over processed and, if I'm honest, not that heavy.
But then you get the one in ten. Those rare bands who genuinely do make heavy, brutal music which takes your breath away and leave you feeling actually drained when the CD finishes. The last album I heard that did this to me was 'Cursed' by Ion Dissonance. It's such a jaw droppingly colossal album, it should come with an actual health warning.
Normally bands like that come along once in a blue moon, yet somehow Basick Records have found a second band to add to their roster who can inspire such a visceral reaction from the listener. Enter, if you will, California's newest noise-makers, Dissipate.
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With their debut EP, 'Tectonics', Dissipate have brought together six tracks of unadulterated heaviness that will strip you of your sanity, destroy your ear drums and leave you begging for air in the corner of the room for about an hour after it's finished.
Kicking you in the face first, 'Motion' opens with some seriously low end, sludgy riffing before the song starts proper and it kicks into overdrive. Mike Gianelli's abilities with 8 strings are immediately evident as he jumps around the fretboard like a man demented, mixing in sludgy low end riffs with intricate and precise tapping passages.
What's clear from the start is that from a production standpoint there's no fucking about here. What you have is two guitars, a couple of vocal tracks, drums and bass, nothing to overblow the sound or prevent you hearing every single searing note that's being thrown at you.
As the EP moves to the second track, 'Such Is The Mind (Of A Realist)', things take a decidedly death Metal approach, with some of the more mathematic and progressive leanings of the opening track being left behind for sheer brutality. The roaring vocal delivery from Josh Foster evokes the likes of Corpsegrinder from Cannibal Corpse and Nergal from Behemoth. He provides a mix of guttural roars, pained shrieking and powerful screams, all framed with Gianelli's pulsating riffs and Jeff Faria's blast beats.
I hope by now you're getting the idea that this is one heavy EP.
In fact, no, it's not just heavy, it's utterly relentless. You hardly get a moment to breathe before 'Becoming The Mantis' wanders into view ready to tear your face off all over again. In fact, 'Becoming The Mantis' needs special attention as it's the best showcase of JT's bass guitar work. The other tracks on the album you can't really hear him, but throughout the third track, his bass work comes into the foreground as Gianelli spends less time on his bottom string, so JT's walloping bass tone gets to stand right out in front.
It's chunky, it's technical, it's absolutely superb. What I'm having a hard time working out with this track though, is whether the clean tapping middle section is done on the bass or on the guitar. Really, with how low tuned the guitar is, it could be either, really.
I'm getting exhausted now and I'm only halfway through 'Tectonics'. However, regardless of the effects this will have on my body, I will soldier on.
'Mech Fail' is what I would rate as the most technical track on this album. There's so many changes in arrangement and technique from all three musicians on here, it's hard to keep up with, let alone count along to. When it comes to the breakdown, there's nothing more satisfying than a polyrhythmic break where everyone kind of gets to go a little nuts.
As an unexpected twist, Foster even treats us to some clean vocals as the song reaches it's closing third. His clean vocals are very reminiscent of Chino Moreno's vocals on any Deftones record you'd care to think of, which considering the band list Deftones as a major influence, I'm sure they'll be happy to hear.
With most albums or EPs, by time you reach track five, you've normally heard everything the band has to offer. Not so with Dissipate as they pull out one more surprise for 'Fragments Lost'. This is a one minute and ten second slice of ambience, based around a looping clean guitar line, with sampled drums, embellishments and the occasional reverb washed vocals yelling in the background. This is your figurative break before 'Tectonics' closes with what can only be described as the heaviest track I've heard in a long time.
The title track closes the album, opening with a slower, sludgier sound than what has come before it. The heaviness comes from the pace, this is a slower, more deliberate track, with more of Foster's clean vocals layered across the top and Gianelli resting on the low notes and chords. It's less frantic than, say, 'Motions', but it's more of a lumbering beast than a violent sociopath. What Dissipate manage to do though, is weigh up light with shade, by including a dark, clean(ish) middle section, which builds back up into a thick, monstrous sounding crescendo finish.
Experiencing 'Tectonics' is just that, it's an experience. If I had to sum up their sound, I would say that the impact Dissipate have is akin to repeatedly having your head beaten off a car made of spikes while you fall off a cliff. Just imagine that in your head and you'll come close to understanding just the kind of impact that Dissipate have.
So if you like your metal intense and relentless but you're tired of the bog standard death metal and metalcore out there at the minute, Dissipate are the boys for you. 'Tectonics' is a superb debut effort that's as technically brilliant as it is earth-shatteringly heavy.
Though I'd probably recommend some safety gear before you listen to it.