These days when we read a press release from some European band that falls close to the death or black metal genre you can be assured it’ll be accompanied by much trumpeting about how they defy genre and confound categorisation. Sometimes that’s a little optimistic, to put it kindly. But, a large proportion of those claims do hold some water. Make no mistake, European extreme metal in 2016 is all about pushing the boundaries and nothing is taboo, even if in some cases it probably should be.
Enter Dysemblem, who we suspect are largely the creative nouse and musical bollocks of one man by the name of, wait for it… Aees, who, with the help of drummer Nuctemeron, has barfed up Strength Of Giants – nine tracks of stylish death metal with a twist. Now, whether these dudes give those names when they go into Starbucks and order up a pair of tall, skinny mocha lattes is anyone’s guess, but that doesn’t stop them adorning the death metal template with some exciting bells and whistles.
“Down the Chasm” begins with the kind of loose, tumbling guitars, pummelling rhythms and occasional squalling guitar flurries that places you firmly in Emperor’s manor, but when Dyseyblem break it down, suddenly they no longer sound like stock progressive black fare. Slow, doomy beat-downs quickly establish themselves as the band’s go-to mode of expression and by the knockout combo of “Gourd of the Damned” and “Gloria Victis” the sinister, hunched figures of Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler loom large over the riffery (although Sabbath personally assured us that they are seeing a chiropractor about this).
As with many extreme bands the vocal is the least adventurous area throughout Strength Of Giants. Aees’ diction is good, great even and his mid range denim and spikes growl screams ‘old school British death metal’ as opposed to ‘anaemic Norwegian moping in a forest’, but he stays within the expected conventions of the genre. No more, no less. Like the output of many multi-instrumentalists there is a vague feeling that the vocals are a bit of an afterthought at times. Indeed, you get the impression that he could hardly wait to kick the mic to one side and revel in the sombre, churning glory of “Dysemblem”, the mid-point of Strength Of Giants.
But your enjoyment of this work surely depends directly on your acceptance of subverting the extreme metal norms. Let’s face it, with a different vocalist Dysemblem could be a classic doom band – too bluesy to appeal to the blast beat and high-tempo worshippers. To compound things they also tick too many death metal boxes to appeal to the hardcore corpse paint crowd.
So who does that leave?
Well, how about music lovers for one. Strength Of Giants is chock full of great riffs, woozy bouts of blackened psychedelia and it also comes strapped with an earthy, knowingly retro production.
Thirty-five minutes well spent with Aees and Co.? Yeah. Go buy that man a latte. 7/10