Jun 132023

(In the following review DGR catches up with one more release from the now-vanished spring of 2023, and this time it’s a debut EP by the German band Dysease.)

Sometimes genre-tags for a band can be amusing, mostly when it comes to the times where the ‘progressive death metal’ tag is applied. Such is the case with Germany’s Dysease – whose name lights up the dopamine centers of the brain over here because we love a good smashing-rocks-against-each-other level pun – and their debut EP Era Of Decay.

Released in the middle of March, the Dysease EP arrived in the hallowed NCS burnt-out corner office sometime in April, but as you’ve noticed, one of the more common refrains around here is how the day job tends to take everything from us. However; that doesn’t mean we’re willing to fully let something go, and in the case of Era Of Decay the constant return to the idea of being ‘progressive death metal’ was enough to keep one wondering what exactly was happening within the EP.

Upon first glance, it’s a solid slab of death metal that has a serrated knife’s sense of groove and gravel-grinding vocals. For many, that’s good enough on its own, but there is a curiosity to Era Of Decay that is hard to pin down.  After a long period of investigation, we’re wondering if the genre-tags are a tacit admission from the band of “We got weird and didn’t know how else to describe what happened”, because there are times throughout Era Of Decay‘s twenty minutes where it seems like Dysease are going to stick in a solid groove and then, somehow, they jump off the path into the weirdest guitar riff one might expect outside of the insectoid trappings of a band like Sectu.

You’ll note that Era Of Decay just begins, something of a newer trend among acts these days. Zero pretense, zero build, just leaping right into the fray with an immediate low-and-slow groove during “Unfurl The Plague”. Opening with the ‘Vacancy sign flashing on forehead’ riff is an interesting statement because often the dynamic for groups is to launch right into the fray and grab the listeners by the throat, but much of “Unfurl The Plague” is built around being a monolithic entity with the occasional start/stop angular percussion just to throw things slightly off rhythm.

“Unfurl The Plague” is also close to being one of the longest songs on Era Of Decay, but it gains a chunk of its song-length not from long brutalizing passages but a quiet section in the middle of the track, wherein the only players up front are vocalist Rene Ax and the guitars. Everyone else hovers quietly off of the periphery of the song until the band build back in, and yes, drag things back to the low-and-slow for a few more measures before finally sending up “Unfurl The Plague” in a quicker conflagration.

It’s a weird beast of a song that seems to lose control of its own limbs at times and is followed by a thirty-one second piece that takes spot number two on the track list. It’s title? “Prologue”.

Mayhaps there was a primordial version of Era Of Decay that only had four songs, beginning with “Prologue” before “Unfurl The Plague” lumbered into frame, threw its weight around, and forced its way into the track listing?

The context behind it must be interesting because “Manufractured” at song three feels like a more natural follow up to “Prologue” and is the high-energy track of Era Of Decay up to that point. Not even the shortest song, given that closer “The Staring Eye” is around four and a half minutes stacked against “Manufractured” and its five-plus, but given how speedy the song is you’d be forgiven for thinking it kind of flies by you.

What it does do that is much like its predecessor “Unfurl The Plague” is provide times throughout the song where it seems like the band just hammered two parts together via nailgun. There will be a very short bridge or transition riff and then the newest part seems to slam into the song with enough force that it merges with the previous section whether it wants to or not.

We referenced it before in the opening segments that it seems like Dysease are happy to just wantonly fling themselves off of the path they’re charting for themselves within any particular song with the sudden distraction of another hammering death metal riff, but you really notice it in “Manufractured”, which seems to quest for high energy above all else and brutality being the spent-energy cast off on the side.

Era Of Decay does get traditionally ‘heavier’ as the EP reaches its natural conclusion with the fitting title of “Deterence By Brutality” taking the trophy for longest song and sounding like upper floors collapsing on lower floors in musical form. “The Staring Eye” brings back the angular sense of groove and percussive vocal patterns to draw the curtains on Era Of Decay as a whole.

Era Of Decay is an interesting starting point because there is clearly a solid humanoid form being constructed by the band here. They’re shocking it to life ala Frankenstein’s monster for the near-twenty-two minutes that the EP runs, but as an observer, you’d still recognize the shambling death metal figure as being a four-limbed, one-headed creature. Dysease seem to be fans of stapling extra appendages onto that form though, so movements become unnatural and for lack of better terminology, ‘weird’.

There’s always an off-kilter segment coming your way on Era Of Decay; even when you feel like you’ve finally gotten a lock on the group’s guitar being way at the forefront of sound, they’ll then suddenly transition to something completely different – shooting way past the ‘now here’s something from out of left-field’ style of writing and into something more akin to a titan picking up a continent and flinging it out of the atmosphere and onto another planet.

It’s a strange journey with Dysease and their Era Of Decay debut, whose shambling form and death metal sensibilities still entertain all the same. The brutality blueprint is still somewhere in the background, even through the musical opaqueness present here and how Dysease built onto it, and contorting and twisting that formula from here on could keep them worth watching.

Era of Decay is available on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.


  One Response to “DYSEASE: “ERA OF DECAY””

  1. I was thinking about Slugdge the other day and how much I look forward to their next album. Though I’m aware it’s still far away from release, I still can’t wait. This Ep realy ticks for me and reminds me of slugdge. Great stuff!

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