Dysgnostic represents a breed of dissonant death metal that walks with a crooked gait. Gnarled and contemplative, its limp is an aftermath of bombastic violence and labyrinthine trauma. Scar Echoes is the breath after the bomb drops, the shower of ash after the eruption, the devilish smile that plasters the face to cope. It dwells in the fallout, offering no clues to the cataclysm that preceded it, and meditates in the annihilation. Like much death metal, it clings to the abyss, not in a cosmogonic musing or philosophical pondering, but a void left in our aftermath: a scar whose healing comes at a sinister price.
Under the moniker Defilementory, this Danish four-piece offers a debut that feels like a continuation of its last outing The Dismal Ascension, but dispenses with the brutal death obsession with dismemberment and excess entirely. Dysgnostic, as a result, sets forth on its own path – a descent, if you will. Debut Scar Echoes, contrary to the brutal dissodeath flayers like Sermon of Flames or Aseitas, channels an uncompromising patience in sprawling dissonance, creeping layers, and carefully unfolding songwriting. Almost a counterpart to Dischordia’s Triptych released earlier this year, Dysgnostic offers dissonance in its most contemplative without sacrificing its bite, even if the act’s debut is ripe for comparison.
While rip-roaring brutality is a method best left in yesteryears and in former manifestations, Dysgnostic lets its scathing dissonance settle into the crevices of the battered brain. While undeniably death metal with technical elements tossed in for good measure, these anti-melodies carry the listener to dark environs. Opener “Dysgnostic” stamps the act’s name on a surprisingly subtle plod of stinging blood-boiling dissonance with suspenseful crescendos, while “Silvery Tongues” and “Scion of Absence” let loose with blastbeats and filthy Our Place of Worship is Silence-inspired riffs, while the unhinged technicality elevates “Eternal Recurrence” in the album’s second act in preparation for the clarity that pervades closer “Darkest Muse,” complete with doom tempos and a wild guitar solo. Its more subdued moments recall Ulcerate’s The Destroyers of All, creating a grey and dismal world of crookedness and deformity as dissonance does the talking. The sprawling leads get seared into the brain with the molten corrosion, the riffs hit with the weight of quaking earths, the blasting percussion rattles the mortal cage, while subterranean roars carve out massive tunnels. Repetition and breath is crucial to Scar Echoes’ success, letting repetitive dissonance repeat with a nearly Amenra-esque mesmeric quality, sprawling across the ears like slabs of paint across the canvas, surreal and intense but contributing to the massive picture – a landscape too forbidden for human eyes.
While the brutal excess found in their Defilementory moniker is a far cry from the content in Scar Echoes, the breed of dissonant death here makes Dysgnostic ripe for comparison. Most notably, much of their debut feels quite a bit like the latest Devenial Verdict, both in cover and atmospheric songwriting – although the emphasis on dissonant technicality is greater with the Danes. Comparisons to The Destroyers of All, as aforesaid, are inescapable, sprawling post-y songwriting being the focus. However, Dysgnostic’s breed of slowly unfolding dissonance can be best described as the counterpart to Dischordia’s latest album: while Triptych happily blasts away at the Gorguts-with-flute aesthetic with little reprieve, Scar Echoes is far more post-apocalyptic, dwelling in ashes and molten aftermath with nearly spiritual meditativeness. Therefore, it can be difficult to appreciate Dysgnostic without multiple listens, its onslaught of layered dissonance and hypnotizing riffs and leads complex and abrasive. As such, the solos in “Scion of Absence” and “Darkest Muse” can stick out like sore thumbs, sudden and bright clarity jarring in the abyss of unrelenting and hostile dissonance.
Dysgnostic has created something that speaks to my hollow soul. While dissonant death is already an intriguing style, the patient, atmospheric songwriting and pitch-black mood present on Scar Echoes is something truly special. Repetition, tempo, and dissonance are used incredibly well and the ugliness never overstays its welcome, even if the chosen style has been accomplished by myriad others. While perhaps a reiteration of dissonant greats, Scar Echoes signals a stunning rebirth of a band previously dedicated to gore and excess, and sets out a crooked path of its own. Sinister, post-apocalyptic, and prayerfully devoted to the dark crevices in the human soul, Dysgnostic’s scarred tones are off to a limping start – and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.