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Another Case Of Horribly Inappropriate Production - 62%

dystopia4, December 17th, 2013

Man, I find this album incredibly frustrating. Fehler translates to "mistake" in German, a word that can perfectly be applied to Dissona's production. While the actual music ain't half-bad, the lightweight and restrained production saps the life out of what otherwise could have been a really cool album. While it still isn't bad in the least, at every corner I'm left wanting a bit more. A hardcore-driven section comes in? Should have been a bit more aggressive. They lay into a big riff? Should have been a bit more heavy. They throw some dissonance into the mix? Should have been a bit (alright, more like a lot) more raw. There's a lot of things this album needs a bit more of, but in the end it just boils down to the fact that they should have beefed up their sound. What pisses me off about this album isn't that it's bad (it's not). It's that it could have been so much better with some minor changes.

Fehler are unmistakably a sludge band, although they do not spew forth your typical scum-laden fare. Instead of a filth-encrusted production job, we get something much more lightweight and unimposing. Given their more expansive and often rockier sound it did not need to sound like an aural recreation of a decrepit crackhouse or a swamp swimming with discarded trash. What it did need was production heavy and full enough to make this have an impact. The riffs aren't amazing but they generally are pretty good (again a bit rockier than your average sludge, as well as often having an emphasis on hardcore), but the friendly production robs them of their ability to truly obliterate. Instead of a good skull fucking we get something agreeable enough but hardly devastating. Despite being more rocking, their sound definitely calls for a dark and relatively raw tone. The dynamic guitar lines all but lose their fervour and increased heaviness would make this so much more compelling. The vocals also need to be fortified; the arid barks are passable enough, although lack conviction and strength. The worst part is when they try to usher in some dissonance - you're just not going to get that dark chaotic clamour you're going for if the sound possesses such an agreeable demeanour.

What the band does manage to get right is the sections where they drop the (stunted) aggression and doomy riffs and allow some room to breathe. In these sections the production doesn't rob of all power - mostly because power isn't what they're going for. Whether it be a downtrodden acoustic guitar, a spiralling melody or some dirty bass work with lingering guitar lines, they are what make up the most rewarding parts of the album. The sorrowful strings in album opener "First Rites" nicely sets a foreboding tone. However this is not the meat of the album, and without the sludge being strong, this really has no hope of saving the whole. It's a nice touch for sure, but I'm not going to listen to the album just because it has an occasional nice little breather.

Yeah, it's rare that something so mediocre (but not bad) would leave me feeling a bit pissed off. But the squandered potential here is just ridiculous. With just a little tweaking, mainly on the production front, this could have been a really cool album. Don't get me wrong, this is still nothing egregious and actually pretty sweet in parts, but damn did they throw away something that could have totally destroyed for nothing. The lighter parts are cool, but the overproduced sound hinders this from being anything more than a 'just alright' album. Also, let this be a lesson to other metal bands - don't try to make dissonance work with a friendly production job. Just, please - don't.