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Disma - "Towards the Megalith" (CD)

Disma - "Towards the Megalith" CD cover image

"Towards the Megalith" track listing:

1. Chaos Apparition (4:36)
2. Chasm Of Oceanus (7:13)
3. Spectral Domination (4:38)
4. Vault Of Membros (6:28)
5. Purulent Quest (4:35)
6. Lost In The Burial Fog (6:06)
7. Of A Past Forlorn (6:05)
8. Towards The Megalith (6:22)

Reviewed by on August 26, 2011

"This album has the damp musk of early ‘90s death metal all over it, and it’s an aroma not meant to be brushed off."

From out of nowhere, a chill has spread through these warm, hazy days of summer. It’s not a cold front or one of those hand-held fans that spray water; it’s from the death metal of Disma. Featuring veterans of the genre in its ranks, the band is shoving icicles into the ears of anybody brave enough to listen to their debut album “Towards The Megalith.” This album has the damp musk of early ‘90s death metal all over it, and it’s an aroma not meant to be brushed off.

A passionate music fan knows that the cover art is an important side attraction to the music; at least it was until the rise of digital downloading killed that dream. Disma must have not gotten the email, fax, or telegram about that, because “Towards The Megalith” has the kind of art that has to be set aside and sunk into. The line of faceless entities carrying coffins into an ominous crypt is what band T-shirts are for, and it’s the right touch to get a listener amped up for the eight tracks.

There was a time where death/doom was a viable commodity, and Disma makes a great case for why that was with threatening cuts like “Lost In The Burial Fog” and “Chasm Of Oceanus.” This is no-nonsense death metal, as the band wavers between rancid noise and simmering anticipation. While the band does have their fleets of blasting, doom is etched in these songs. This is a release heavy on the riffs and light on the flair, and while the latter is usually the role saved for the singer, Craig Pillard will have no part in those shenanigans.

If his name sounds recognizable, it’s because Pillard recorded two albums with Incantation in the ‘90s. His low grunts and growls may not have much in the way of variety, but he is damn good at them. They fit the unsettling mood given off by the rest of the members, and have a ton of strength to them. Harsh vocals are only part of the process; there has to be a menacing quality to them to get people completely focused in. Pillard has one of the best voices in death metal, and time has not done anything to affect this.

Music like this is not exactly “enjoyable,” unless one’s vision of enjoyable is a lovely evening stroll through a graveyard. The final three tracks is where this description comes into effect. The title track is a final cry for help, a worthless plea for forgiveness. The last few words, “Crawl to your coffin/within obsidian graves/entombed in steel,” rewards the listener with mind-numbing feedback and repetitive drum beats.

There’s always a band releasing a good death metal album, but there’s few that can put out an excellent one. Considering this is Disma’s debut, that makes “Towards The Megalith” something more to celebrate. The production is just right, keeping a rawness without feeling like it was processed through Pro Tools 50 times. There aren’t any acoustic instrumentals or melodic attempts, but the band doesn’t need any of those crutches. “Towards The Megalith” is one of the best death/doom albums this year, and it would be a tragedy to see a record like this not get the press and adoration it deserves.

Highs: Classic-sounding death/doom, Craig Pillard has a inhuman bark and growl to his voice, puts many other death metal albums released this year to shame

Lows: Nothing except a few nit-picks that have no real weight to them.

Bottom line: One of the best death/doom albums this year, and a amazing feat considering that it's the band's debut album.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)