Dissona – Paleopneumatic (2016)

Dissona are one of those rare and amazing metal bands that seem to have come straight from another dimension. Just in listening to this incredibly lengthy (yet deservingly so) third full-length from the Chicagoan progressive metallers, I’m completely spellbound from front to back. The record is definitely an experiment, utilizing several things that other artists just wouldn’t. That includes everything from diverse electronic compositions, to a closer in “Sunderance” (5:49) which features a bit of female chant and folk music. But that’s not to say that this particular cut is the only place you’ll hear folk influence, and there’s a definite burst of folk right in the middle of “Fire-Bellied” (8:40) which actually begins with a pure electronic influence. Yes, I am reminded of acts like Opeth, but also acts like Subterranean Masquerade and even Solefald. Those of you who know me by now, know that I hold such acts in high regard, which makes the awfully awesome work provided here a real joy to the ears. Dissona are the kind of act that don’t mind throwing a full-on electronic piece right in the middle of a mostly metallic album, and “Outside The Skin” (4:04) seems to balance melancholy vocals with both an organic folky approach and the inorganic robot music of which the piece began. To some of you, this piece might not do so well as one of their bulkier metal cuts, but to me, the piece is simply glorious and the true definition of artist. The fact that these guys strayed so far from the path with such a cut before going right into the ravenous choirs and extremity of “Breach” (3:59) certainly shows that they’re full of surprises – and having done this work as long as I have, such gifts are something that I find I never tire from.

We’ve already covered that the record is indeed multifaceted and balances the heavy with the light, but what you might get confused by is the band’s genre tag. They’re here considered “progressive metal” which might bring to mind acts like Dream Theater, Symphony X or Pagan’s Mind, and while there are semblances of those acts here, that is not the basis of the listen. I could most certainly consider such a heavily structured record as this a form of extreme metal, complete with just as much of a harsh and threatening vocal and music approach, as there is a lighthearted one. But it’s quite fair to say that things never get so lighthearted on the release with the exception of it’s closer and a light piano interlude in “Anastomosis” (2:13), making for what is essentially a rather thick show of bravado. Paleopneumatic effortlessly mixes the traditional sound of progressive metal with that of a much more ferocious nature, making for a listen that doesn’t wind up in the listener becoming overly bored. Even if the vocals don’t deliver in some areas, the musicianship simply knows no bounds. Dissona are the kind of band that I shouldn’t just now be hearing about, especially with two other records under their belt. This might be the first record since their self-titled sophomore (I know. Who does that?) back in 12′ but we’re awfully glad that the Mayans were wrong about their silly old calendar and that these gentlemen were able to bring us such a truly monolithic effort in Paleopneumatic. This record isn’t just the sort of listen that merely makes your perk up your ears in excitement, it sucks you in entirely and makes you a part of the experience. It’s an atmosphere, but not one generated by simple whizzes and hums. This is something far more voluminous, with several instruments working together to form the equivalent of what sounds like a metal orchestra. Records like Paleopneumatic are the very reasons why I still consider heavy metal music to be the most intelligent and forward thinking music in existence. It is indeed the direct predecessor of classical, and some very intelligent individuals are self-claimed “metalheads.” I swear, it has only been a manner of weeks and some of the best records I’ve ever heard have been offered to me for review. Either these publicists are getting to know my tastes, or a fucking golden cloud has opened up somewhere and it’s full of great metal releases. Well, let me go outside and thank this beautiful beast of cumulonimbal might as I and The Grim Tower highly recommend yet another great musical masterpiece in Dissona’s Paleopneumatic.

(10 Tracks, 63:00)

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