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Disma is something of a super-group, though a bit of an unusual one given that with the exception of vocalist Craig Pillard of Incantation fame, they are comprised primarily of people who came into the scene a bit too late for the early 90s NYDM awakening and some surrounding New England acts that picked up on the same overall vibe. Their brand of death metal is rooted in early 90s tradition, often times being difficult to distinguish from the aforementioned big name from the early 90s, in which Pillard first made a name for himself, but also being perhaps a little different in terms of scope and overall dimension. One might liken them to a meeting place between the murky and bleak world of Incantation, the slow trudging doom character of a handful of Autopsy and late Morbid Angel offerings, and the longer winded songwriting character of early Vital Remains in some respects, at least insofar as this demo is concerned.
Arguably the greatest distinction that Disma seems to make between itself and its influences is the sheer depth and sludgy character of their sound, putting a heavy emphasis on a thick, plodding bass character that gives even the occasional thrashing sections a sense of slowness and despair. This is particularly noteworthy on title song "The Vault Of Membros" where the chaotic and somewhat top-heavy drumming melds together with an extremely dissonant guitar and bass sound to form a sort of gargantuan blob of sound, out of which Pillard rumbles out some of the most utterly deep, guttural, incomprehensible grunts imaginable. Combined with a reverb-drenched production quality that fits quite well with the band's early 90s sound, all of the moving parts function as a sort of slow marching colossus on his way to destroy an entire city, and manages to maintain this sense of murkiness even when blasting and thrashing away in a manner reminiscent of early Cannibal Corpse on "Chaos Apparition".
If there be any single gripe about this demo, it is the same general one that can be lobbed at any independent, formative effort before a true finalized product is brought into being, and that is a sense of incompleteness, primarily in the potential of the overall sound. Even within the first minute of "Lost In The Burial Fog" it is clear that the limited production quality is holding back what is a truly massive mixture of sounds. It's the sort of music that one tends to associate with the massive temples and structures often depicted in the early 90s old school releases of Dismember and Benediction (particularly the accompanying art works of Dan Seagrave that adorned the covers of their respective magnum opuses), and interestingly enough the imagery on the eventual LP that this preceded "Towards The Megalith" confirms the band's overall affinity with massive feats of ancient architecture.
If you have checked some of my previous reviews then you may remember my quite enthusiastic reaction to Disma’s debut full length album “Towards the Megalith” (which I’m still waiting to get released on vinyl). It truly was a massacring and awesomely brutal, massive death metal and for sure it also turned out to be one of my favourite albums released in years. Its main strength lied within the ability to create a dark and eerie atmosphere, to deliver crushing, massive riffs, which really were able to dismember… and you know, to put it simply, Disma just composed several absolutely spotless old school death metal songs, with killer riffage, great vocals and not to mention flawless production… It seemed like Disma perfected everything and this is why I consider “Towards the Megalith” as one of the greatest death metal records of the decade or more. But while I was enjoying “Towards the Megalith” I also realized that so far I haven’t had a chance to hear any other releases from Disma – and they also released a demo and two 7”EPs (one of which is a spit release with Winterwolf – band, which features an Antti Boman, ex Demilich vocalist!). I lost my chance to get any of them, but I was quite happy when I have found out that Detest Records will do “The Vault of Membros” vinyl version. Sad news was that it is the final release of this excellent label – something I couldn’t believe that they decided to end their activity so soon… but well, that’s another story. As a fan I am happy that I managed to pick up several releases from Detest and among them there’s “The Vault of Membros” on vinyl. They’ve released it on nice gatefold cover and the record itself comes on red colour, but none of that is really so important (especially as the artwork on this demo is not as damn effective as the cover, which you can see on “Towards the Megalith”) – only one thing matters and that is the music.
Music on “The Vault of Membros” is just fuckin awesome. I guess it shouldn’t really be a surprise, as all three songs from this demo have been re-recorded for the album. And they are: “Lost in the Burial Fog”, “The Vault of Membros” and “Chaos Apparition”. Expect only the best US styled obscure death metal, mixed with everything what the European scene has to offer (a lot of Finnish, Swedish and British influence can be spotted everywhere); slow and massive, morbid, heavy and brutal… and it will feel like something ultra heavy is smashing your face and squeezing your limbs like in the vice, splashing the blood everywhere and bringing unimaginable pain. Ha, what a wonderful feeling! Take “Lost in the Burial Fog”, for instance, what a damn killer song that is. What I like is that it is not just a plain and simple Incantation worship, but there’s something more to it, as I mentioned you’ll find there also some Swedish or Finnish influences, from the likes of Grave, Adramelech or Demigod… and it is such an awesome listen. I love the deep, maniacal vocals of Craig Pillard, as well as the sound – even if is not as 100% perfect as on the album – plus that crushing, powerful riffage is so awesome, with those slow parts or harmonies… the whole stuff sounds like a classic death metal record. I just cannot resist those sounds and keep playing that record over and over again!
“The Vault of Membros” vinyl version contains an extra track, just in case you don’t know. It is a live version of “The Manifestation”, which is a song from the 7”EP. Well, it sounds so well that it is almost hard to believe it is a live recording, especially as there’re no screams of people or any other signs of living beings present during the recording of the song… This is why it sounds weird a bit. But the song is really good and I think it is a good addition to the whole demo. But even without it I would have to strongly recommend you getting this piece of vinyl (or if you’re lucky you may get the original demo cassette somewhere?) – the music of Disma is just powerful and absolutely 666% killer and for me this is one of the best death metal bands of the decade. Now, if I can only ask someone to finally release their full length album on vinyl… I’ve heard that Doomentia will take care of it and will include a bonus 7”EP with two new songs to the album. I fuckin cannot wait to get it!!!!!!!!!
Standout track: “Lost in the Burial Fog”
Final rate: 95/100
Disma is a band "playing heavy down-tuned music in the old vein (and from the heart.) Bypassing any current 'old school' trends, Disma exists for themselves and for fans of true Underground Death Metal, period." And when they say down-tuned, they mean DOWN-TUNED. All the way down to G, which is about Mortician. And the first thing that hits you once you press play is the suffocating heaviness. Disma are a band that don't know the meaning of mercy.
Like the title implies, this is like a mix of Finnish death metal morbidity (mostly Demilich and Purtenance, but some Convulse is definitely in there as well) and Incantation. Riffs fly at the listener relentlessly, a whole heap of riffs, too. Some with Demilich's alien style, some doom your head into total mush, some get crusty and throw some d-beats into the mix. Daryl Kahan (of Funebrarum/Citizens Arrest/Abazagorath fame) slings the ol' 6-string along with Bill Venner (Incantation) and the duo is just madness. The leads/harmonies are were Incantation comes into play, sounding straight off of Incantation's early demos/EPs.
Craig Pillard lends his inhuman throat to the demo and fits just perfectly. He does a mix of his bottomless abyss, Will Rahmer-esque style from his Incantation days and the growlier style from Disciples of Mockery, mostly staying in the former and using the latter to add a little splash of diversity to the vocals.
Songwriting is absolutely superb. Songs go all over the place, yet still feel coherent. Ideas that shouldn't work (doom section straight to d-beat) work flawlessly here. It could be the production, which is all analog. Giving the demo a morbid, cavernous sound. It's very similar to the Cruciamentum demo or even Cardiac Arrest; not too much distortion (for death metalon the guitars, just fuckheaps of low end and a good bit of reverb, with the drums being loud as fuck and RAW.
In essence, this sounds like a freshly unearthed corpse being savagely devoured by a flock of cannibalistic fiends; awesome. While only three songs long, this demo is pound-for-pound better than most albums. Look out for these guys. Underground, bestial, cavernous death metal just got new gods.
For fans of: Funebrarum, Incantation, Cruciamentum, Grave Miasma, the entire Finnish and Stockholm scenes, etc.
This is the first demo from Disma, an American band playing death metal, featuring Craig Pillard and Bill Venner from Incantation, plus Daryl Kahan and Shawn Eldridge from Funebrarum.
The production on this album is perfect for this style: a thick, fuzzy guitar sound with the belched vocals on top and the drums beneath them, all reinforced by the rumbling bass. Even on demo tape, this sounds better than most death metal records already...
In terms of songwriting, Disma is much more straightforward than Incantation ever was, but similarities can be seen in the riffing style. The band alternates between straight-ahead blasting sections and slower, doomy parts. The latter are truly crushing; the former will keep your interest with plenty of clever fills and guitar parts. Unlike many bands in this style, the songs are quite cohesive -- there's a lot going on in "The Vault of Membros", with easily five or six different sections all in one song, but the whole thing sounds like one tune rather than a collection of parts. As if that wasn't enough, "Chaos Apparition" serves up some insane off-kilter riffing and frantic tempo changes.
What puts Disma above most of today's death metal acts is its sheer quality: the riffs are powerful, the vocals are fucking insane, and the drumming and bass work is top-notch. There's nothing new here, but those who worship the old ways will be more than happy with this demo. Highly recommended.
Standout Tracks: "The Vault of Membros", "Chaos Apparition"
Review by vorfeed: http://www.vorfeed.net