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Dystopia A.D. – Rise Of The Merciless

Dystopia A.D.
Rise Of The Merciless
by Cherie Wong at 01 July 2020, 5:29 PM

On July 31, 2020, DYSTOPIA A.D. releases “Rise Of The Merciless.” DYSTOPIA A.D. is a two member band from New Jersey that just formed in 2018. “Rise Of The Merciless” is an EP that follows their debut full-length album “Designing Ruin,” which was released in 2018. A variety of guest musicians contributed to “Designing Ruin.” Chris Whitby had handled all instruments, vocals, and songwriting, while Aki Shishido had then only worked on two of the tracks.

Rise Of The Merciless” is a death metal album that incorporates melodic, technical, thrash, and progressive metal into their sound. Since both members are guitarists, it shouldn’t be surprising that most tracks are guitar driven, whether melodic or technical. The melodic guitar riffs and solos are my favorite part of the record. The technical and progressive aspects are light and not overdone. The album is also more rounded out and layered that I would have expected from a two person band. One criticism I have is of the vocals. While I like the bit of clean singing interspersed in the growling, I would have preferred one or the other instead of the jarring compromise of the yelling type of vocal that is scattered throughout the album.

This album caught my attention from the beginning with the guitar melodies of “Red Sand.” Like early melodic death metal, the melodic sections on this album are counterbalanced and intermingled with thrash-y passages. The ending leads right into “Nomad,” an equally melody driven track. The syncopated rhythm of the first half elevates it beyond being just another death metal song with a nice melodic riff. That isn’t to say the riff isn’t good though, because it’s actually really great. Soaring and expressive, just like the guitar solo in the middle of the track. The second half is a slower pace, with clean singing and yelling instead of growling. The transition is done well, and it is a good move in terms of musical composition.

Plaguebringers” is a good track, no wonder it was released as the teaser. If this is the only track you have heard though, don’t expect the other tracks to have saxophone. “Rise Of The Merciless” is not as melodic as the first two tracks, instead it is technical and progressive. Transitions between passages and musical ideas are seamless.

Overall, I recommend this album to fans of progressive and melodic death metal, though this album has wide appeal. “Rise Of The Merciless” has a mature sound, which is impressive considering the relatively recent formation of the band. With each listen, I found more and more details that I liked. I look forward to another full length album from DYSTOPIA A.D.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Red Sand
2. Nomad
3. Plaguebringers
4. Rise Of The Merciless
5. Sisyphean Existence
6. Grave Pact
Aki Shishido – Lead Guitarist
Chris Whitby – Guitarist/Bassist/Vocalist


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Edited 17 January 2021

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