Dysmal – Gates to Apperception (Apostasy Records)Monday, 6th February 2023
While many musicians stood stagnant, stymied because of an unprecedented lockdown situation through the pandemic over the past couple of years, others pivoted into a creative push like Burial Vault guitarist/main composer Tobias Schaub. Writing new material with a technological evolution (and its inherent disadvantages) slant, Dysmal arises as a melodic death metal project where he handles the guitars, bass, and keyboards while choosing to employ a multiple vocalist outlook to give the debut album Gates to Apperception modern diversity. Five singers enter the fold – Gitte Silze Andersen providing the clean melodies, as musicians from Epidemic Scorn, Hörnery, Nyktophobia, and Burial Vault’s own Raimund Ennenga roar with their deadly larynx busting voices.
The musical approach covers wide ground in terms of tempos, grooves, aggression tempered with adequate melodic sequences where circular guitar movements create this hypnotic vortex as the clean/extreme vocals spring forth at all the right times. Classic Scandinavian melodic death influences form the foundation of these tracks, expanding outward to include modern and groove accents. The stop/start nature of “Emergent Perceptrons” as the opener gets the record off to a potent start, tremolo/blast beat measures plus cascading keyboards heightening the deadly atmosphere. Clean guitar parts next to airy effects give “Hidden Layers” that extra level of anticipation, the doomy/groove riff volleys against the growls, screams, and alternative/gothic female clean vocals supreme in headbanging passion. The lower chugging “Brute Force” lives up to its namesake, the haunting keyboards adding tension next to the speed to emotive transitions, while the longest cut “Immersion” at almost seven minutes closes the record in epic grandeur, including background choir vocals, classical-oriented piano play, plus the ideal addictive guitar hooks that make melodic death metal fans throw up devil horns approval.
Dysmal succeeds in keeping the focus on catchy songwriting that is aggressive, diversifying the proceedings without staying locked into one specific template for too long over the course of the record. Followers into old Dark Tranquillity, current Wolfheart, along with a bit of At the Gates/Arch Enemy for good measure will delight in the contents of Gates to Apperception.