Disma: 'Towards the Megalith'


Towards the Megalith (Profound Lore)

If you listen to New Jersey death-metal throwback Disma's debut full-length, you will hear the sound of drums. Like, actual drums, not drum triggers. If you listen closely, you will hear what sounds like room tone on the slightly dragging snare punctuating the slow-mo doom crawl "Vault of Membros." You will hear the unmistakable sound of a human with two arms and two legs, seemingly unassisted by studio technology, lending a barely perceptible mortal flex to the blastbeats on "Chasm of Oceanus." There are plenty of reasons so much standard death metal sounds played out in the year 2011, and the inhuman machine-like patter of the percussion is just one of them. Towards the Megalith subverts that, and most of the rest of the tiresome conventions. A throwback never sounded so fresh.

"Slo-mo doom crawl" should be another clue. Opener "Chaos Apparition" steps off at the classic rattling death-metal tempo, drummer Shawn Eldridge charging into the rolls, but it isn't long before the track drops into a breakdown, and the rest of the eight cuts spend a good bit of time at half-speed or less. Indeed, mid-tempo-ish tracks like "Purulent Quest" give Bill Venner and Daryl Kahan's guitar riffs a little room to expand, and make enough room for Randi Stokes' bass to make itself felt. (Yes, that's right, you can hear the bass, and as more than an angry buzz, even amid the album's analog-ish fog.) Neither a technical blur nor a doom wallow, Towards the Megalith never settles into one mode long before some tectonic shift takes place, even within the tracks themselves.

And then there's Craig Pillard, the ex-Incantation member whose throat-scraping growl fronts Disma. If you're gonna do old-school-ish death metal, then an old-school death-metal frontman is an excellent way to go, and the gut-shot tempos here don't faze him a bit. It you're still standing by the time the machine-gunning title track rolls around at the album's end, you'll be ready to follow him anywhere.