By Craig Haze
Profound Lore label head Chris Bruni has a lot of explaining to do. Seemingly every artist his label releases ends up being not only widely acclaimed, but also manages to epitomize the best elements of their chosen genre. You want some windswept metal? Agalloch will do. Fancy some doom? There’s Yob or Loss. Black metal? Krallice or Avichi. Something avant-garde? Try Portal or Yakuza. If you want to hear the best of metal’s many dimensions then it’s more than likely that Profound Lore will have the band for you. Case in point: Disma, whose Profound Lore debut Towards The Megalith conjures up all the essential abhorrent facets of OSDM.
Featuring the vocals of former Incantation frontman Craig Pillard, backed up by members of Funebrarum, Incantation and Methadone, it’s obvious a crew with that bloodline would cook up something seriously fetid. Pre-release hype promised an utterly devastating album and that’s exactly what you get. Towards the Megalith is crushingly heavy – like monolithic pillars being dropped on top of you. Firmly anchored in the OSDM realm, the album features a demoralizing mix of harsh, seriously downtuned, doom-laden dirges that crawl along on split knuckles.
Opener “Chaos Apparition” sets the album’s tone. A weighty chug-chug kick off, followed up by a filthy riff and the scouring graveled vocals of Pillard, sends the tune galloping away, before easing off in the last third to drag in the rack and ruin. Second track, “Chasm of Oceanus”, lumbers forward slowly, dragging a muddy buzzing riff along, before kicking into a higher gear. Next up is “Spectral Domination”, in which the band switches tracks again, starting off swiftly only to lurch to a halt and stagger forward on the weight of a lugubrious riff.
I could go on, but a track-by-track review is pointless. Disma isn’t doing anything innovative, and there’s no one track I can point to as a clear marker of the album’s brilliance. The fact is that Towards the Megalith isn’t groundbreaking in any way at all – it’s all very straightforward. What you have here is a bunch of formidable tunes that prowl along the death metal continuum and the only thing you really need to understand is that every single one of them is fucking brutal and completely pulverizing.
Comparisons to label mates Vasaeleth and similar outfits have been thrown around. Obviously they all inhabit the same putrid catacombs, but Towards the Megalith is less cloaked in the mire, with a less squalid production than the source material would suggest. There’s a core level of murkiness and density throughout, but the drums aren’t buried, the bass isn’t muddied, the riffs are distinct and Pillard’s grating vocals are given plenty of opportunities to sour the atmosphere. It’s not as coarse as I initially expected, but that’s not a complaint; it’s still got plenty of nastiness about it.
It’s not a huge step from either Incantation or Funerbalum to Disma. And there’s probably nothing on this album that’s going to draw you in if you’re not already a fan of death metal. However, if you are a fan of authentic, gut-punching OSDM then this is an essential purchase. Towards the Megalith easily lives up to all the hype. Disma has taken that putrefying core of death metal, leant hard on the browbeating heaviness and come up with a classic. If you rolled it up and smoked it, it’d kill you. That’s how pure this shit is. Death metal album of 2011? We’ll have to wait and see, Antediluvian’s on the horizon.