DYSCORDIA needs no introduction anymore, at least not for its Belgian fans. Otherwise, I’m going to repeat what I wrote in the “Reveries” review (see here). “Reveries” is the band’s first release, a 6-track EP (2010). Flanders (in Belgium, yes) has spawned many great bands, though not all of them managed to acquire the deserved recognition and fame. Some of the last jewels in the region of Kortrijk are ARTRACH and GWYLLION. The first put out three demo CDs, one better than the other. The potential was clearly there to go for it big time. Sadly, ARTRACH had to quit its activities in 2009. GWYLLION put out a diamond of an album, “The Edge Of All I Know” (see my review here). But as the search for a new female vocalist has been suspended, the band sort of split (not really, but GWYLLION is not doing anything, so each is free to pursue other activities) and three other bands were linked: DYSCORDIA (with members of a.o. ARTRACH and GWYLLION), FIREFORCE and IMMANENT DISTANCE. The idea for DYSCORDIA was born in 2009, if my knowledge is right and the band was formed then in 2010.
Several gigs and lots of efforts later, the guys finally have a full-length ready, titled “Twin Symbiosis”. Prior to its release, though, the band tested two of the songs live on regular occasions. For this album the recordings were done at Road Mark Studios, but for the mixing and mastering the band decided to appeal to Fascination Street Studios, home to famed producer Jens Bogren (AMON AMARTH, PARADISE LOST, OPETH, DRACONIAN, SYMPHONY X, KREATOR, and many more), who mixed “Twin Symbiosis”. The mastering was done by Tony Lindgren. The artwork, like before, was done by guitarist Guy Commeene.
In a long search to find a label – many fans were already wondering since the release of the EP why the band hadn’t found a label home yet – and concluding that maybe they were too good to be signed, DYSCORDIA decided to again release the album themselves. However, more recently they did obtain a distribution deal with DMI Records. Gig-wise the band participated in the PPM Fest and Dokk’um Battles and won both with ease. Sort of.
But on to the album itself, of course. It contains eleven tracks, of which four made the transfer from EP to full-length: “The Empty Room”, “Ache Of Hearts”, “Locked Within” and “Black Clown”. This also means that “Reveries” and “Realm Of Night” were not found worthy enough to be featured as well on this new release. Sad, but these things happen. The ones that did make it were re-recorded. For the sake of ease, I have of course copy-pasted parts of what I wrote in the “Reveries” EP.
“Twin Symbiosis” begins with a spooky intro (“Dreamcatcher Tree”), its guitar melody inspired by a vocal track lead singer Piet recorded. This connects directly with the blasting melodies of “The Empty Room” come thundering out of the speakers, like barrage. Melodic guitarwork is key, dual even. Grunts and clean vocals again, like before, and Piet’s taking the lead, yet allows for the growls of Stefan to come through as well when needed (e.g. chorus). Speaking of music, Power Metal! Woohoo! But it doesn’t last that long. When I first this song on the “Reveries” EP, the break (just the drums, the bass guitar following, clean vocals and a clean guitar and slowly growing in Metalness. Especially the melodic guitarwork comes out beautifully!) was the element I was most critical about, as it comes in quite suddenly, where you would expect a return to the verses. But after having heard and seen it played several times, I no longer have any problems with it whatsoever. In fact, I think it’s very well thought of to implement such a twist. After that it only gets better, catchier (mainly the vocal parts… awesome! Hear Piet unleashing the crazy little guy in himself), and more powerful. Definitely one of the best tracks on the album. The Folky melody is the cherry on the cake and when Piets dances to it… brilliant! Of course, you can’t see that when you hear the song, but when you’ve seen the band live already, you know what I mean.
This brings us to another superb highlight, called “From Sight To Black”, which starts off with an atmospheric, mysterious intro. Something is brewing… and then, yes, the melodic Metal breaks loose. Again there’s a high focus on melodic guitar input. The contrast between the tight, though atmospheric verses with soft singing goes well with the heavier, emotional chorus. Overall the music is less brutal, so to speak, yet the way it’s composed and played gives it a powerful feel. About the chorus: the layered vocals add to its emotional character and I have to admit I find it very beautiful and yes, touching. It manages to strike a chord within me. GWYLLION also had that ability, as did/do RHAPSODY (specific songs, of course), ANCIENT BARDS, LUCA TURILLI, SAVATAGE, NIGHTWISH (specific songs off the first few albums), and others. The growl/clean combo after the chorus fits splendidly. There is of course room for solos, during which the tempo goes up a bit, all adding more ROCK to the whole.
“Rise To Perception” begins with a guitar part, to unleash madness with pounding drums. But not your regular drum pattern. Vocal duties are again divided between Stefan (‘growls) and Piet (cleans). Melodic guitarwork guides the pounding Metal, allowing even for a touch of Folkiness in the bridge. This reminded me of TÝR. Piet also sounds fiercer here. Other than that, Progressive Metal is indeed on offer with changing rhythms and patterns. Halfway the track this is clearly demonstrated. Somehow I consider this song to be theatrical, as it could fit in a musical of some sorts. Contrast is also created between aggressive and more emotional parts, each having its own music.
The intro of “Ache Of Hearts” certainly fits the description (calm, atmospheric, clean guitar plucking, …). But then the power breaks loose, slowly and dangerous, shifting into straight-forward Heavy Metal…. when everything all of a sudden stops! For the clean verses, of course. I have to say, that sudden halt is indeed sudden. The song itself is another sad one and the grunts help to stress the drama of it all. The music is not as variable as before and therefore flows very well, which in turn helps ease the listening experience. The solos are well done, as usual. So, yes, another solid track in the bank. Can these guys write bad music at all? Take “The Loser’s Game” for example; another superb song. Kick in directly with pounding, melodic music with a high dose of catchy playing, thanks to the triple guitar input. The tempo lies higher, there’s more punch, more activity going on. Even humpa power Metal; I love it! Growls occupy the verses, cleans reside in the bridge and layered singing is activated in the chorus, where the music flows more normally, by manner of speech. A powerful rhythmic part in combination with a movie sample leads to the solos, which in turn lead to the verses again and so on.
And the magic doesn’t stop there. “In Solitude” comes into play with a clean guitar intro that isn’t the happiest one. Add leadwork in vein of METALLICA’s “Orion” and a bass that keeps the main rhythm and you know what to expect. Pounding melodic Metal breaks loose after this. I’m almost drooling here (figure of speech), it’s this tasty indeed! The powerful and dark verses, with clean and fierce vocals, contain heavy riffing, which reminded me of NEVERMORE. The growls are present as well, Piet doesn’t need to get all the credit. 😉 Like before and since melody is a key aspect in DYSCORDIA’s songs, the chorus contains a good load of it. In addition and muchos kudos to the guys for this: the vocals and acompanying melodies here. Absolutely breathtaking! Dito for the fierce, pounding bridge. First class material. So mindblowing/stunning/… I have to suppress another delivery of tears. Ok, this sounds strange, but it’s true. The music enters the realm of Prog once more before the solo kicks in.
“Locked Within” is a little slower, darker and more atmospheric, at least in its intro. The overall feel is a sad one, as Piet’s singing indicate, as does the music. Even in the chorus there’s not really a sign of happiness. Stefan’s grunts cannot change that and have to follow suit. And yet the music is quite powerful. You could, in a way, compare this feeling with GWYLLION’s “A Thousand Words”. This contrast is well done, but I wouldn’t mind the music taking indeed a more calmer direction. Vocally both clean and growls are used and the latter even become the leading ones for a while. The atmospheric keyboards deserved more attention, in my opinion. Now they’re too far in the back. However, the vocals do carry the melody well enough and it’s great to hear how the guitars come back into play. On the drums Wouter can ‘t sit still. He HAS TO add a fill or something. Like George Kollias (NILE) has to (read: cannot suppress the feeling to) blast in this video – see here (and forward to 06:20). However, one complaint I have to make: over halfway there is an atmospheric vocal piece. And it sounds strange, at least to me, like it’s a separate recording or something didn’t go well (or went too well) in the mix. I found the EP version, with regards to this specific part, better, to be honest. Solos are laid out after this.
“Black Clown” contains a guitar lead that is so damn catchy and tasty, one could never get tired of it. Also present are double bass power and Piet singing with a more rough-edged voice. Musically it’s totally GWYLLION, only with a male vocalist. Growls are done in the bridge, while Piet’s cleans reclaim the throne in the chorus and Stefan’s grunts are pushed to the back. Straight-forward melodic Metal is what is brought then. Three guitarists, it must be for a reason, if not just for the solo moments. And yes, it’s precisely this (the guitarwork, incl. the solos) that is the center of attention, although the drums cannot be ignored, for obvious reasons. Quality material from start to finish!
The title track then. On most releases, this is one of the strongest songs. Here… well, let’s say I like it a little less compared to the other songs. It starts with a bluesy guitar lick and as you can imagine, this is actually very refreshing at this stage. The music only growls in volume when the chorus is due, delivering midtempo modern Rock, you might say. It’s very acessible and not as Progressive as the previous songs. But it wouldn’t be DYSCORDIA without a twist. Halfway the lever goes into Metal-mode! Ingredients: heavy riffing and pounding drums. The melodic aspect remains a constant. This is, however, only a side-step, a twist indeed. The more atmospheric side of the song returns afterwards. Last but not least: “My Devotion”. This is also the longest song, with almost 8 minutes of playtime. This track also kicks in directly, not time for an intro, just hit it. Midtempo, straight-forward melodic Metal (what else?) is provided. And it rocks. It’s very hymnic, too. And emotional. The Prog has made its entrance again, through the rhythms and melodies. All ends around 5 minutes and a half, after which the rest is just a looped piano melody, sounding like there is no hope anymore, all is lost. Or, the beginning of something new? A new chapter in life, leave behind the old stuff? This is one of the more bombastic tracks, so do give it several spins to appreciate it all better.
DYSCORDIA, saviours and flag bearers of Progressive/Power Metal in Belgium, have not only conquered many stages and won many battles, they have also created a weapon of mass persuasion called “Twin Symbiosis”. Three melodic battle axes, a thundering rhythm section and powerful vocals to turn the knob in your mind and convert you to the church of DYSCORDIA. Progressive Power Metal of very high quality that should leave no label blind to its supreme compositions. Alas, many still are. But fear not, for DMI Records will help you to join the band in their battle for world domination – well, Europe first. Or you can decide to purchase from the band themselves (see their website for info). In any case, all jokes aside, “Twin Symbiosis” is a masterpiece and therefore heavily recommended!
P.S.: by special request, though, but respect for the lovely ladies (Valerie Vanhoutte and Lynn Beyls) contributing to the conversion of new souls through the transfer of goods (aka merchandise) in return for financial liquidity (aka money).
- Dreamcatcher Tree
- The Empty Room
- From Sight To Black
- Rise To Perception
- Ache of Hearts
- The Loser’s Game
- In Solitude
- Locked Within
- Black Clown
- Twin Symbiosis
- My Devotion
Piet Overstijns – clean vocals
Stefan Segers – growls, guitar
Guy Commeene – guitar
Martijn Debonnet – guitar
Wouter Nottebaert – bass
Wouter Debonnet – drums