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Dysphagic > The Age of Reckoning > Reviews > Xyrth
Dysphagic - The Age of Reckoning

The Age of Meandering - 65%

Xyrth, November 11th, 2011

I first listened to this album out of pure curiosity. The music contained was described as “progressive/technical deathcore”, so I imagined an amalgamation of All Shall Perish with Decrepit Birth, and a bit of old Cynic hopefully thrown in, or probably a sound akin to the first The Faceless record, Akeldama. The planet-themed cover also reinforced the idea that maybe there’d also be some influence from Obscura. After having listened to it I realized all these preconceptions probed to be true to a certain extent, however they’re not as succulent as I had imagined. Dysphagic’s debut probed to be another harmless addition to the latest trend of melodic, over-saturated, technical and ultimately uninspiring deathcore.

The band’s name refers to the “medical term for the symptom of difficulty in swallowing” according to Wikipedia. That would somehow imply psychological, pathological or perhaps even gore oriented lyrics like old Carcass, yet that’s not the case here. They’re more in the vein of “stand strong and prevail” stuff, the usual metalcore subject matter. So nothing’s particularly original in that area. Moreover, lyrics are almost totally undecipherable ‘cos Mr. Willingham’s vocal assault consists in a messy mix of hardcore barks, rasps, mediocre pig squeals, brutish death grunts and insipid clear singing which are the usual approach in the genre(s). Again, nothing outstanding here, and despite the variety of styles it all ends up sounding pretty generic.

So what about the music? Well, the guys can really play their respective instruments more than properly, being fast and dexterous. They’re really capable musicians; the problem is they really don’t bring anything new to the table. I mean, we’ve heard those chugging, down-tuned riffs being used by dozens of bands, and the melodic explorations of the fret board found on this album have already been done countless times. The stop and go rhythmic approach is also very commonplace, a trait Dysphagic shares with the whole deathcore genre. That said, the band’s major influence in this album is probably The Faceless amazing second album, Planetary Duality, as this band tries (too hard) to create something as challenging as that, though they don’t quite achieve it.

Despite it’s solid musicianship, The Age of Reckoning compositions are too chaotic for their own good and they lack cohesion, catchiness and an overall sense of direction. Their multiple influences are reflected in a mish-mash of ideas that don’t yield very good results, unlike other bands that can channel different influences into producing a style of their own (Agalloch, Skeletonwitch, Akercocke, etc). It’s like you could interchange different sections of the songs and nobody, save for the band maybe, would notice. Take this The Black Dahlia Murder melodic riffing part and place it after this Carnifex breakdown, then randomly insert a note-wankery solo there. Most tracks suffer the same illness, and there are no discernible highlights here, though the brief “Instrumentation” is the song I enjoyed the most.

Conclusion: there better options out there within these styles of extreme metal, like the already mentioned The Faceless albums, or the latest All Shall Perish record. Dysphagic might be still in an embryonic phase, at least creatively speaking, but they do have potential. The guys just have to put their shit together and aim for a more focused songwriting style. Adding some fresher ideas of their own wouldn’t hurt them either.