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Dysgnostic – Scar Echoes

Scar Echoes
by Santiago Puyol at 13 November 2022, 10:42 AM

Known as DEFILEMENTORY from 2008 up to 2021, Danish Death Metallers have come back with their sophomore full-length effort under the name DYSGNOSTIC. Seemingly a play on a portmanteau of dissonance and gnostic —that which refers to knowledge, especially of an esoteric kind—, the name feels like an appropriate one for such a complex album built as much of technically impressive musicianship and atmospheric dissonance as “Scar Echoes” is. Although firmly rooted in a Dissonant Death Metal sound, the band embraces elements of Progressive, Black and even bits of Doom Metal in their songwriting, colouring a bit out of the lines of genre.

Opening with the eponymous track “Dysgnostic” is a bold choice and manages to be a great way of presenting this new identity. A chugging, sludgy mid-tempo death metal track that introduces the listener into the noisy world of DYSGNOSTIC without feeling overwhelming. It serves the purpose of a softer, brief intro typical of this brand of Extreme Metal even when it’s not, retaining the heaviness of the rest of the record and being a full song.

The brutality and technically impressive kind of stuff one should expect comes right out of the bat with “Silver Tongues”. Pulverizing drumming, dissonant shredding and spidery riffing make for a typical Death Metal track. There is even a bit of a -core element in the vocal delivery from Thomas Fischer at times, especially when going on an atypical higher register than most Death Metal. “Silver Tongues” is a perfect showcase of the overwhelming sonic quality that DYSGNOSTIC strives to achieve. More than a wall of sound, the band goes for a full barricade with every instrument fusing together in a massive block of powerful sound.

Beneath Abyssal Plains” toys with dissonance in interesting ways. The guitar work here is pretty inspired, especially the atonal playing of the left-panned guitar against the textured, tremolo-picked right one. Simon Klem Kannegard’s lead work evokes a sense of melody but playing outside of the obvious harmony more often than not, adding deep tension. On the production end of things, the band plays around with instrument placement, adding a sense of width unusual for this kind of music.

Coming as a brutal assault to the ears, is “Oceans of Gray”, a no-nonsense track that barely stops for a respite. Its outro is the closest it gets to giving the listener and the band some breathing room, but most of the time it’s crushingly heavy. Together with “Scion of Absence” it’s the closest the band gets to by-the-numbers, dissonant and technically complex Death Metal.

With a few exceptions, the second half of the record finds the band experimenting with Progressive and Doom elements. The longest song on the album, “Nothing’s Embrace” is a perfect example of proggy sensibilities with its great melodic moments, playful cymbal work and nostalgic guitar lines, especially on the intro and the lengthy, mostly-instrumental section that sits in the middle of the track. A highlight for Fischer’s bass work too, getting to play both some nasty grooves and even some melodic accents here and there.

Things slow down progressively during “Eternal Recurrence”, reaching Doomy tempos by the end of the song. It takes time to reach that pace, but the song starts unravelling at the seams midway through, losing steam in a very purposeful way. It never loses its edge or its heaviness, though. And that movement works towards setting up the introspective, inwards-looking finale that is “Darkest Muse”.

Chugging and dense, the closer echoes back to opener “Dysgnostic”, bookending the album in a Sludgy, even Doomy manner at times. It feels like a summation of every aspect of the album so far: the big barricades of sound; the atmospheric, both melancholic and dissonant passages; the progressive structure, even the sporadically used guitar bends. The bass pulsates in a hypnotic manner when everything seems about to stop, keeping the band in a steady if faint beat. Quite possibly the strongest song on the record.

Overall, “Scar Echoes” is a strong record filled with well-written songs that allow the band to explore different moods and structures. It succeeds the most when it embraces its experimental and proggy tendencies. Shifting tempos and making use of creative production brings an extra layer to both the atmospheric excursions and the over-the-top, sonic assault of the heavier sections. Everyone is clearly talented when it comes to their respective instruments, something that ties together the album’s ambition.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Dysgnostic
2. Silvery Tongues
3. Beneath Abyssal Plains
4. Oceans of Grey
5. Nothing's Embrace
6. Scion of Absence
7. Eternal Recurrence
8. Darkest Muse
Thomas Fischer – Bass, Vocals, Composition
Simon Klem Kannegard – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Richardt Olsen – Drums, Guitar
Record Label: Transcending Obscurity Records


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