Dysrhythmia’s ‘Test of Submission’ has soaring adventures that demolish necks

I’m not the type that needs heavily motivated when there’s a job at hand. Especially if it’s a big one, because I kind of want to dig in, make a game plan, and strike so that progress can be made. To do otherwise would feel like neglecting a duty, and that would build up in the back of my head like a giant pit of guilt.

But working through large quantities of work sometimes is a little tough to tackle. For example, this week I had a major project to battle and a very limited window in which to get things done, and also working against that is the impending vacation and my anticipation of that event. So yes, I want to get this work done, and done right, so I can go away knowing I did everything I could to keep the gears moving, but I also want to think about having time away where the only worry will be how many beers I’ll have that evening. So it can be tough, in that situation, to keep focused, which is something I absolutely have to do.

It always seems the right kind of music or the proper band falls into my lap — figuratively, quite obviously — just when I need it, and this week, as I struggled to balance deadline pressure with beach pleasure, I got to working alongside the prog/death/math/what-have-you instrumental warriors Dysrhythmia. We haven’t heard from the band since 2009’s “Psychic Maps” (which was released on Relapse), and the dudes who make up the band have been pretty busy with other projects. Bass whiz Colin Marston has been making various noises with Krallice (::cough:: stopbacktomorrow ::cough::) and on the upcoming new Gorguts album; guitarist Kevin Hufnagel also has been busy with Gorguts as well as Vaura; while longtime drummer Jeff Eber appears to have had his head simply with this project.

The band’s sixth album finally has arrived in the form of “Test of Submission,” and they’ve jumped from Relapse to the mighty Profound Lore, where they kind of seem like an oddball addition to a pretty eclectic roster. But standing out never has been a bad thing, and their inclusion there certainly makes sense. Also, much like Profound Lore’s artists’ reputation, this album is a powerful force, one that’ll require you to visit many times to fully explore all the peaks, valleys, and neck-jerking turns, and if you’re like me and need some music to keep your brain going and functioning, these guys certainly have what it takes to deliver that boost.

Two bands stood out to me when listening to “Test of Submission”: Pelican in their earlier, hungrier days, and modern-era Rush, who seem to have discovered a new level of experimentation and fresh synergy that has kept them one of the most vital legendary acts going. The songs here are not necessarily brutal and punishing, though Eber certainly knows when to kick out some well-timed blasts, such as on “The Madness of the Three” and “Like Chameleons,” an otherwise atmospheric, chilled-out number that eventually combusts. But for the most part, the band hits on interesting melodies, sci-fi influenced, instrumental storytelling, and unpredictable transmissions that, every time you think you know where the guys are headed, they change the scenery and the tempo. That’s a major reason it was a big boost to a hectic work week.

The albums opens with “In Secrecy,” a song that delves into crazy right off the bat, with Marston channeling Geddy Lee, the guitar riffs going both gritty and melodic, and the stage being set for what follows. The title cut blows in jazzy prog, and the band finds a scary, machine-like precision, but there’s an essence of humanity to it too, never allowing themselves to be overcome by their ability. “The Line Always Snaps” has an exploratory opening, eventually running into some indie rock-style guitar chugging from Hufnagel, and “Running Towards the End” picks up seamlessly from there, with some really riveting, peculiar tempos, a little bit of doom crunch, and a wave of emotion.

“In the Spirit of a Catastrophe” gets off to a jerky start, stays pretty punchy throughout its duration, and also has that propulsive Rush vibe, with Eber eventually going batshit on his kit as the song reaches its conclusion. Aforementioned “Madness” and “Chameleons” both have violent outbursts built into them, but elsewhere on these tracks, there are moments of true accessibility, where someone intimidated by their astonishing instrumentation finally can calm down and understand the bigger picture. Closer “in Consequence” is more than seven minutes of science-lab-meets-playground chicanery, and they throw just about everything they have in a cauldron, from mystical clean guitar work to some mellow slide play to the gazey doom that brings the album to its raucous conclusion.

Dysrhythmia never fail to capture the imagination with their prowess and invention, but even after the initial shock of their music wears off, there’s a lot of meaty depth underneath to dig into to satisfy your pangs. These guys continue to shape-shift with each effort, and they always sound like a band never satisfied with their boundaries and always willing to go as high as they can with every record. “Test of Submission” is right up there with the rest of the band’s catalog, and it might be go-to music this weekend if I need some mental stimulation while driving on turnpikes.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/Dysrhythmia

To buy the album, go here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/plr-items/dysrhythmia-test-of-submission/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

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