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Occasionally, miracles do happen: from where you'd least expect it, something reaches you and totally blows you away. For me, the "Demo 2004" by Discard was such a "something".
The four guys in Discard are from Finland. Now I'll admit that I don't know terribly much about the Finnish music scene. An unqualified statement of mine about it might be: they play a lot of Folk, sometimes with Metal and sometimes without, but mostly Folk, and sometimes also a little Power/Melodic Metal, optionally with a Black touch. I'm thinking of Ensiferum, Finntroll, Tenhi...the usual suspects.
Generalisations like these are, naturally, stupid. There are of course many bands that fit into this scheme; Discard don't. Instead, the folks around front growler Heikki play Thrash Metal with Death influences. On this demo you only get to hear three tracks, but they speak volumes about the skills and potential of the band. In addition, for a demo the production is very decent: especially the drums and the bass appear, to me, in a good light, but the rest sounds all right as well.
From said rest, the singing is the first thing to catch your eye, or rather your ear, and it doesn't catch it as much as smash into it at maximum speed. Heikki, you see, sounds very nasty, as far as Thrash is concerned almost unusually nasty. Some people will want to see me burn at the stake for this, but I felt at times reminded of a certain Mr Åkerfeldt – not that he's up to par with him, or at least not yet! With more practice and experience one can expect great things, however (also assuming he can pull off clean vocals equally well). The fundament is there, at any rate.
But even apart from comparisons with long established metal vocalists, especially since they hail from somewhat different metal styles, Heikki impresses with his performance: his voice adds a nicely brutal touch to the music, setting it apart and above (from) "usual" Thrash.
Similar things can be said of the rest of the group: they are skilled at what they do! It's of course not easy (and perhaps not entirely fair either) to appropriately rate their musical and technical skills based solely on a demo with three songs. At any rate, I can say that the rhythm section (consisting of drummer Toni and bassist Ohto) plays very solidly and tightly, laying the tonal foundation for the rest of the band in an ideal fashion. The guitar fraction stands out mostly thanks to the many excellent riffs and comparatively doesn't attach much importance to leads along the lines of "look at me, I know how to play the guitar!", which allows them to fit into the overall concept very well.
And the overall concept is just plain right. All three songs presented to us by Discard here are catchy, highly memorable, contain driving drums, pounding bass and riffs that invariably get stuck in your head, are crowned by Heikki's destructive voice. Discard play very tightly and have an excellent grasp of their craft.
Right from the start, the opener "Pulse" chugs away uncompromisingly and skilfully keeps the balance between slower and somewhat faster parts. Also notable is the surprisingly catchy chorus, of which both the riffs and the vocals get stuck in your ear.
"We Disintegrate", which is not, as one may expect, a Nevermore cover, has a melodic, instrumental interlude complete with awesome lead action in store for you about halfway through before it heads back into mid tempo territory. As time went by, this tune became my favourite song on this short record and displaced "Pulse" on the podium.
"Forget", sadly, already marks the end of the demo and is the weakest of the three songs, in my opinion. It's not that it's bad, but it's just not as catchy as the other. It neither gets stuck in your head as abruptly like "Pulse", nor does it offer a such unexpected melodic interlude as found on "We Disintegrate". Like I said, not a bad song by far, just not quite on the level of the other two. To retrieve its honour I should note that there are a few quite nice riffs and solos (sadly, the latter are a little on the short side), but that's it.
All in all this disc convinced me, at any rate, that Discard know their shit, and proved once more that there's plenty of stuff out there worth being listened to, even (or especially?) by bands without a record contract, you just have to find it somehow. But magazines like the Metal Observer can be very helpful when it comes to that kind of thing!
I know it's risky to have great expectations already after a demo with only three songs, but all signs indicate that Discard both can write and play great songs as well as have an unique sound which sets them apart from the mass of similar groups. Keep your eyes on this band, people.
By the way: if you would like to form your own opinion of Discard, you can download the songs on this demo from the band's website linked above. It's free after all, why not give it a shot?
Originally written for the Metal Observer.
If one thing could be said it's that Discard sounds tight on this demo. They play excellently together and it really is hard to believe that this is a demo. The only problem is the vocals. It's hard to say if the style is suppose to be death but poorly executed or the screeching growl. Some parts almost sound like Chris Barnes while other parts sound almost black metal like. It works alright but not anything to get excited about.
The short solo in 'Pulse' sounds fast and tempting but is much too short. The rest of the song is an above average thrashy metal song. Very pleasing to the ears. The riffs are hard and quite memoriable.
The same is to be said about 'We Disintegrate' but with abit of a Pantera type groove thrown into the mix. The melody is great and can easily make you bob your head. Half way there is a breakdown that leaves it's self without a full finish. It gives you a hint of what the band wants to accomplish but doesn't have the arsenal to do so.
The third song on the demo 'Forget' hits you just like the last track. Melodies to please any Pantera fan but this time with a few leads thrown into the mix and some clean tone guitar work (Faintly to be heard in the background, listen closely!). The song isn't nearly long enough and again leaves you wanting more.
This demo is more of a teaser. The band displays their influences and what they want to do without actually going there. It's decently done but leaves you wanting to hear exactly what they bring to the table and seperates them from other bands.