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Dissonance has been popping up in some extreme metal (and hardcore) for decades, but the past few years have seen a lot of bands embrace dissonance as a defining feature of their music. Whether these groups come from a death metal or black metal background, I hear a good bit of stylistic convergence going on, so I'd like to gather them under one big disgusting umbrella here and post some links. A lot of this music is intentionally, almost perversely impenetrable, and isn't well-suited for casual listening; if that sounds appealing, awaken your inner masochist and dive in. In the spirit of maximum disorientation (or because I'm impulsive and lazy?), I've posted these in no particular order. I have several more bands to add to this thread when I have time, but feel free to post anything else that fits.

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Gorguts - "Obscura": from late '90s Canada comes one of the essential founding documents of dissonant death metal. This album (their third full-length) was a bold shift away from tradition for Gorguts, and at the time it was very much an outlier. Brazenly fragmentary blasts, sickly churning grooves, gloomy melodies, haggard and frantic yelling, what's not to love?

 

Gorguts - "Pleiades' Dust": I have to give Gorguts another entry here. The brilliant "Pleiades' Dust" is Gorguts back in their prime with a new lineup, eighteen years after the release of "Obscura". It's not as consistently aggressive as their earlier material, but the common thread is apparent; intricate musicianship, rich atmosphere, and refined, dynamic songwriting show a band eager to push their own boundaries.

 

Ulcerate - "Destroyers Of All": Hailing from New Zealand, this band has been at the forefront of dissonant DM for nearly a decade, putting their stamp on the genre with twisted guitar lines and almost inhumanly complicated drumming, offering long and dismal songs that create a sense of slow, brooding menace despite remaining in nearly constant motion. This album is the one that drew me in, and it's still the one I enjoy the most, with drawn-out melodic ideas and post-metal textures reminiscent of later Isis.

 

Deathspell Omega - "Fas - Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum": another one of the most influential bands in the style, this French black metal band is consistently jarring, abrasive, and chaotic, with excellent musicianship.

 

Plebeian Grandstand - "False Highs, True Lows": while we're in France, this group should appeal to DSO fans; I could use the same adjectives to describe them. Tons of energy and aggression on display, with a bit of a hardcore edge at times. Apparently this album was recorded live, which is very impressive to me.

 

Ad Nauseam - "Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est": an Italian band with a lot of similarities to Gorguts and Deathspell Omega, with vocals that often remind me of Marten Hansen (of A Canorous Quintet/October Tide). They've found their own voice in this style, and their energy and dedication to songcraft is obvious; this album manages to be complex and brutal while remaining consistently enjoyable.

 

Mitochondrion - "Parasignosis": dark, murky black/death from Canada, with swirling guitar lines and a vibe that's somehow both hypnotic and pummeling.

 

Portal - "Outre": Remember that time you got hit by an earthquake in the middle of a sandstorm? Almost the definition of murk, this Australian group offers very little to grab onto, basically forcing you to live this record from moment to moment.

 

Abyssal - "Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius": black/death with fragmentary, bludgeoning riffs that are more involved than the overall dark and distorted sound might suggest, conjuring both anger and a sense of melancholy. There's a lot going on here if you dig for it. This album and their debut are fantastic, although I found myself underwhelmed by their latest.

 

Jute Gyte - "Night Is The Collaborator Of Torturers" (from the album "Discontinuities"): microtonal experimental black metal, a solo effort from the impossibly prolific American musician Adam Kalmbach. Unique, unsettlingly bent guitar parts that inhabit an uncanny valley of almost-recognizable tunefulness, with tortured screams that recall Rainer Landfermann's classic performance on "Dictius Te Necare". Most of Jute Gyte's albums are available as name-your-price downloads on Bandcamp; my personal favorites are this one, "Vast Chains", "Verstiegenheit", and "Isolation", but take the plunge for yourself.

 

Krallice - "Ygg Huur": a group of musicians truly on their own path, NYC's Krallice combine discordant riffs with snatches of broken melody and intuitive but precise shifts in meter and tempo to create an immersive journey for anyone who's willing to follow along. The organic sound, melodic sensibility, and passion of black metal with the technical accuracy and structural flexibility to which death metal often aspires. This was recorded live, and watching them perform it live remains a highlight for me.

 

Zhrine - "Unortheta": another phenomenal live act. I was unprepared for how crisp and powerful they would sound; I don't think this recording quite does them justice. Hailing from Iceland, they play an atmospheric and moody brand of blackened DM reminiscent of Ulcerate, but more accessible, with more of a focus on melody and groove. EDIT - full album stream got taken down, here's the opening track.

 

Setentia - "Darkness Transcend": these guys are another group that could accurately be described as "like a more accessible and melodic Ulcerate", and as a result (especially since they're also from New Zealand), I think they tend to be overshadowed. That's a shame. This album has its own voice, apparent in their melodic sense as well as their songwriting style, despite obvious textural similarities. The work and energy they put in shine through.

 

Mortichnia - "Heir To Scoria And Ash": a gloomy Irish group. Melody-driven but discordant post-black metal with pained shrieks, lumbering bass, and crushing atmosphere.

 

Skaphe - "Skaphe 2": Originally from America but now apparently based in Iceland, this duo plays cavernous yet suffocatingly dense black metal shot through with atonal, delay-drenched leads and ghastly howls. Patterns resolve only to disappear, and somehow it remains captivating throughout.

 

Edited by FatherAlabaster
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5 hours ago, MattCantina said:

Great selection, I still have to check out Jute Gyte, but that Van Eyck painting and the comparison with Bethlehem aroused my interest. 

Some of his newer stuff is a bit too off the deep end for me to find listenable, but visit his bandcamp page and check it out. The only similarity to Bethlehem is in the vocals - pretty bloodcurdling and intense. I read an interview where he said that someone (the mailman?) heard him recording, thought he was torturing somebody, and called the cops, and he had to take the cops through his recording studio before they'd believe him.

3 hours ago, MacabreEternal said:

Agree that the Zhrine sound on record doesn't really sound strong enough, the mix is a little off for me too.  I just can't enjoy that record, I find it comes off really blunt.

I like it better now than I did when it came out. Can't tell if that's more to do with hearing it outside of the context of comparing it to other albums from that year (particularly "Shrines Of Paralysis"), or just that I'm more in the mood for it at the moment.

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27 minutes ago, FatherAlabaster said:

Some of his newer stuff is a bit too off the deep end for me to find listenable, but visit his bandcamp page and check it out. The only similarity to Bethlehem is in the vocals - pretty bloodcurdling and intense. I read an interview where he said that someone (the mailman?) heard him recording, thought he was torturing somebody, and called the cops, and he had to take the cops through his recording studio before they'd believe him.

Didn't know that, truly sounds crazy... but turns out I dig this song, although it's pretty weird for a black metal band. There is an interesting atmospheric passage that starts more or less at 3:54, it seems to me like an amalgamation between Krallice and DsO. There is also a split between this dude and Spectral Lore, might check it out soon.

 

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Suffering Hour - "In Passing Ascension": This Minneapolis band made some waves with the release of this album last year, and rightfully so. They write consistently interesting songs with a mix of DSO/Ved Buens Ende-inspired riffs, more traditional blackened death metal parts, unpredictable flirtations with melody, darkly guttural vocals, and a psychedelic tinge, all wrapped up with organic yet clear guitar tones and a thick, natural drum sound. This album is one of the more enjoyable recent "dissonant" releases I've heard.

 

Sunless - "Urraca": Something in the water in Minneapolis? Here's another ambitious, well-mixed 2017 debut from another trio up that way, this one recalling "Obscura"-era Gorguts in pacing and vocal style. I have to say that I find the album as a whole a little too homogeneous, and as such I've had difficulty connecting with it. Nevertheless, it's an impressive outing from some very skilled musicians, and I'm interested to hear what happens next.

 

Ingurgitating Oblivion - "Vision Wallows In Symphonies Of Light": this is one of the more diverse albums here, making frequent forays into clean atmospheres that remind me of obscure 70s prog before diving back into abrasive and chaotic brutal/tech DM. It's a deep and sometimes challenging listen; the songs are long and they feel like it, though thankfully there are some inflection points within the chaos. I have to be in the right mood to enjoy this album, but when I am, it's pretty amazing. The combination of elements here invites comparisons to modern-day Gorguts, but it's a different animal. Hailing from Germany, this recording features session drums from the insanely talented Lille Gruber (Defeated Sanity).

 

Artificial Brain - "Infrared Horizon": another 2017 release, from Long Island, NY. Artificial Brain's sophomore outing sees them taking a darker and more purposeful turn that puts more emphasis on the blackened and melodic aspects of their already well-developed sound, evoking newer Krallice and Gorguts without ever sounding like a clone. The songwriting is tight and concise, striking a balance between depth, chaos, and enjoyability. I wish the sound here was a bit brighter and more present, but it's a minor gripe. These guys are also a stellar live act, more than worth seeing if you get the chance.

 

Ulsect - "Fall To Depravity" (from the album "Ulsect"): Yet another recent debut, this one from the Netherlands, featuring members of Dodecahedron and Textures. This is a densely layered, polished recording. Chiming clean guitars hang over choppy midpaced grooves and modern hardcore-inflected vocals with a Meshuggah-like sense of pacing, making this album feel more "djenty" than I usually go for, but it's well-done and surprisingly accessible.
 

 

Dodecahedron - "Octahedron - Harbinger" (from the album "Kwintessens"): angular black metal that reminds me of a more atmospheric Averse Sefira mixed with a bit of Thantifaxath. There are obvious musical similarities to the Ulsect album above (with whom they share a drummer and a guitarist), but this is a good bit more aggressive, impulsive, and speedy, with a lot of blastbeats and angry, declarative vocals.

 

Thantifaxath - "Sacred White Noise" - speaking of Thantifaxath, here's their only full-length to date. This young Canadian band certainly delivered the goods live when I saw them, and this album is impressive - abrasive black metal with lots of tension-inducing chromatic melody lines and frequent use of odd time signatures, harrowing and entertaining at the same time.

 

2 hours ago, MattCantina said:

Didn't know that, truly sounds crazy... but turns out I dig this song, although it's pretty weird for a black metal band. There is an interesting atmospheric passage that starts more or less at 3:54, it seems to me like an amalgamation between Krallice and DsO. There is also a split between this dude and Spectral Lore, might check it out soon.

 

I liked this album, although "Discontinuities" and "Vast Chains" seemed a little more coherent to me. Definitely couldn't hurt to download a few of them from his bandcamp page and give them some time when you're in the mood.

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7 minutes ago, FatherAlabaster said:

I liked this album, although "Discontinuities" and "Vast Chains" seemed a little more coherent to me. Definitely couldn't hurt to download a few of them from his bandcamp page and give them some time when you're in the mood.

Definitely going to snag a physical copy of Discontinuities, I like what I'm seeing so far

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