(In this 70th edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews the releases to date of UK-based Dyscarnate.)
Recommended for fans of: Immolation, Hate, Misery Index
I’ll probably catch some serious flack for saying this, but sometimes it seems like the UK scene has an unfortunate tendency, consciously or otherwise, to celebrate mass-appeal and mediocrity over inspiration and artistic integrity — often mixed in with a weird strain of pseudo-nationalist sentiment that demands your unequivocal, unthinking support for “True British Heavy Metal”… and insinuates that you’re a traitor or a poser if you fail to do so.
Despite the fact that the country is currently bubbling with fantastic, unique bands (particularly in the Doom and Black Metal genres) easily the equal of anything the rest of the world can produce, there’s still a large section of the scene who seem happy to just settle for what’s comfortable and familiar, be it the next in a seemingly endless line of interchangeable, lowest-common-denominator Thrash/Groove acts, or yet another generic, domestic-brand version of whatever’s currently trendy in the good old US of A.
And yet despite this, or maybe even because of it, it still pleases me whenever I get the chance to showcase a UK band capable of going above and beyond the call of duty. A band kicking ass and taking names entirely on their own terms. A band like Dyscarnate.
ANNIHILATE TO LIBERATE – 2008
The group’s first “proper” release (and their only one as a quartet) came in the form of 2008’s Annihilate to Liberate EP which, while occasionally a scrappy affair, really showcases the nascent potential which the group would eventually come to capitalize on.
The raw and uncompromising “Fuelling the Ignorance” gets things going, the palpable energy and intensity of the song more than offsetting the slightly rough-shod production job of the EP (most noticeable in the slightly brittle drum sound), with the band going hell for leather in an unapologetic display of youthful passion and rage.
“…And We March On” has a slightly thrashier, slightly groovier, vibe to it, though the vocals are about as harsh and uncompromising as they come, helping to maintain the overall extremity of the band’s sound with consummate ease – particularly when the second half of the track abruptly shifts gears into a more angular, abrasive approach reminiscent of a less tech-obsessed Dying Fetus.
Without a single ounce of fat or wasted space, “Rape the Fallen” is three-and-a-half minutes of perfectly proportioned Death Metal punishment (and also, quite possibly, the best song on the entire EP), packing a truly vicious punch designed to leave the listener concussed and disoriented as the ugly ground-and-pound assault of “Assimilation of Indifference” steps in to finish them off with its weapons-grade riffage and moments of grim, Autopsy-channelling death-groove.
The EP closes out with the stuttering, Cannibal Corpse-esque “Opposites Detract”, five solid minutes of unrepentant sonic depravity which more than makes up for what it lacks in originality with a hefty helping of primal Death Metal ferocity.
ENDURING THE MASSACRE – 2010
Wasting absolutely no time, the band’s debut full-length kicks into high gear with the blasturbatory frenzy of “An Axe to Grind”, its hailstorm of snapping snare beats playing off nicely against the song’s mix of coiled, low-slung bass/guitar grooves and morbid, chugging intensity, with the virulently aggressive twin-throated vocals of Bates and Whitty (a mix of barking, mid-low growls and scalding high screams) helping keep things both hooky and hateful.
“Despised and Disgraced” starts off as a vertebrae-wrecking stomp-along before transforming into a savage, thrashy torrent of scorched and blackened Death Metal riffs and relentlessly intense, painfully complex drum work, building to a monstrously head-bangable finale, before the wrathful “Extinguishing the Face of Heaven” brings the hammer down and somehow pushes the heaviness metre up a couple of extra notches.
As far as Immolation-style blast and bludgeon goes, “Extinguishing…” offers absolutely no quarter, all juddering, ball-crushing riffs and strangling, barbed-wire tremolo, leading into the sub-four-minute auditory apocalypse that is “Yielding the Iron Fist” (containing some of the album’s most awe-inspiring drum work), and the darkly majestic, Behemoth-influenced, “Judecca”, with its blood-pumping mix of raging, rib-cracking riffs (subtly crisped and blackened to perfection around the edges), massive, crushing grooves, and utterly beastly vocals (including some well-incorporated gang-style bellows).
It’s altogether possible that, by this point in the album, the listener will be suffering from sonic shell-shock, but the band aren’t done with you just yet. “The Vitruvian Plan” is a four-minute firestorm of insanely intense blastery and truly vicious, high/low vocalisations, all delivered with the military precision of a cruise missile, followed by the wickedly chaotic and cannibalistic vibes of “Those Who Trespass Against Us”.
The album ends with the merciless assault of its title-track, “Enduring the Massacre”, whose devastating payload combines murderous, blasting drums and ravenous vocals with a vicious array of cleverly understated hooks and streamlined strafing runs of poisonously melodic tremolo, all designed for maximum lethality and minimal survivors.
AND SO IT CAME TO PASS – 2012
Hideously underrated and underappreciated at the time it came out (despite garnering a solid brace of stellar reviews and some impressive overall critical acclaim), And So It Came To Pass is, without hyperbole, an absolutely stunning album. In fact I’d go so far as to say it’s one of the best Death Metal albums of the new millennium, taking a massive step up from its predecessor by bringing in an even sharper array of malevolent hooks and dynamic twists without sacrificing one iota of heaviness or brutality in the process.
As titanium-clad instrumental intro “The Weight of All Things” gives way to the unflinching aggression, humongous hooks, and precisely wielded power of “In the Face of Armageddon”, you can immediately notice the difference. As undeniably intense and crushing as anything you’d care to compare it to, the whole song just feels more confident and cohesive than ever, the sound of a band no longer content simply to crush their opposition but out to conquer them utterly.
The punishing (and pun-tastic) “Cain Enable” kicks in with the sort of murder-happy groove that would turn Misery Index green with envy, topped off with a vocal performance that I can only describe as “titanic”, before eventually switching gears (and not for the last time) to unleash an outright barrage of clanging riffs and flying footwork (courtesy of one-man drumming dervish Matt Unsworth).
“A Drone In The Hive” slams its way into your brain like an iron railway-spike, triggering an unstoppable urge to bang your head, scream your lungs out, and lay waste to your immediate surroundings, while follow-up “Engraving Ecstasy” actually takes things a step further, injecting your body with an almost heart-stopping blast of pure, undiluted Death Metal adrenaline, every killer riff and brutally infectious vocal part seemingly designed solely to set off a violent physical reaction.
The hammering pneumatic hooks and earth-shaking grooves of “The Promethean” are intercut with sudden spasms of gatling-gun extremity and hacking, thrash-tinged riffs, alongside a terrifyingly intense vocal performance akin to opening the door of a blast-furnace, a sensation that carries over into the unstoppable force of “Grinding Down the Gears”, which delivers an absolute blitzkrieg of bombastic riff work and pulverising percussive artillery over the course of its 04:55 run-time.
Catchy and catastrophic, “Rise and Fall” is exactly the sort of anthemic call to destruction that Messrs. Netherton, Jarivs, Kloeppel, and Morris have made their specialty, but never falls into the trap of aping the Maryland misery-makers wholesale. Rather it rides a parallel rail, propelled by its own power and electrifying energy, before slamming straight into the heaving, heads-down, guard-up, pummeling of “Seizure”, which then proceeds to crack your ribs and snap your neck back with a series of tooth-rattling metallic uppercuts and brutally effective hooks.
And So It Came To Pass concludes with the kinetic intensity of “Kingdom of the Blind”, a song which channels the pounding Polish power and precision of Hate/Behemoth into five solid minutes of tooled-up, heavily armoured Death Metal might that chugs and grinds and blasts and bludgeons the listener into submission without an ounce of mercy or remorse.
Although vocalist/bassist Henry Bates has since left the fold, I’m reliably informed (by the band’s Facebook page, no less) that the newly reconstituted Dyscarnate – now featuring new bassist/vocalist Al Llewellyn – have a new album in the offing, set for release later this year.
I, for one, cannot wait to hear it.