Dyssebeia – Garden of Stillborn Idols (Transcending Obscurity)

Monday, 11th December 2023
Rating: 8.5 / 10

There are more varieties of death metal out there than there are flavors of ice cream at a Baskin Robbins, and certainly more than Howard Johnson’s one (if you don’t get this reference, I’m sad). Ingenuity has been off the charts, with bands such as An Abstract Illusion, Hath, Nightmarer, Tomb Mold, and a litany of others making their own defined impression on the genre, to the delight of listeners. This scribe has been taken aback plenty of times by a new artist, and this is definitely one of those times. Switzerland’s Dyssebia is a new project from the brains of Alexandre Sotirov (vocals) and Merlin Bogado (guitars) that’s melodic yet forthcoming, wrapped in thought provoking song structures. Their debut full-length Garden of Stillborn Idols is a surprisingly mature riff stew, with plenty of hooks thrown in for good measure.

Proceedings begin deftly via “Mors Tua, Vita Mea,” awash with flowing melodies and smooth clean passages, followed by a quickly emerging riff assault. Tremolos and searing growls are layered with thick rhythm guitar crunchiness, beefed up with the octopus-like drumming of Sam Jakubec. There’s plenty of moving parts, both from the hyper fast and aggressive, to the loftily emotive. Lovers of melodic death metal akin to Be’Lakor will enjoy the varied progressive approach to song structures, from the luscious leads of “Retribution” to the more twisted brutality-laden, yet optimistic, tapestry that is “Hatch.”

Dyssebeia dive deeply into the lucid melancholic leanings of In Mourning, putting forth gorgeous lead guitar passages of which are quickly imprinted on the brain, while also balancing a continued steady flow of riffs. The poignant usage of clean guitars interwoven throughout adds yet another dynamic, helping round out what is the strongest cut from Garden of Stillborn Idols. Even blackened death tidbits appear within tracks such as “Black Swarm” to contrast with the melodious aspects, whereas “Moon Bearer” and “Apophenia” will melt your face and still maintain a satisfying unpredictability.

An overarching and palpable energy surrounds Garden of Stillborn Idols, with the band rarely loosening their proverbial grip, even when transitioning into more somber moments like the acoustic verses of “Funeral Ink.” It’s an album with gobs of feeling and complex arrangements, but rarely meanders into sluggishness or presumptuousness. The production also enhances, being clean and balanced, yet punchy and crisp, accentuating the band’s sound profile well.

For a veteran group who had been honing their skills for years, Garden of Stillborn Idols would be quite a notable accomplishment. Now consider that this is the debut album, and what’s been achieved is that much more impressive. Dyssebeia have a seemingly unending amount of ideas and songwriting craftiness, and they’re just getting started. True that they haven’t reached the deity-tiered heights of An Abstract Illusion’s Woe, but no one can rightfully complain about the immense initial leap Dyssebeia have stuck the landing on. Garden of Stillborn Idols is a fine introduction to a band whose potential can only be limited by their own creative juices, and we have a feeling they’ve only begun to realize the possibilities.

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