Time seems to move a lot faster when you get older. I remember Stumbling across a Dyscarnate video on YouTube, and being impressed with the clean-cut English trio’s no-nonsense take on death metal. I made a mental note to investigate further. That was probably seven years ago, and I hadn’t listened to another note of Dyscarnate’s music until the promo for the group’s third album, With All Their Might, landed in my inbox. The intervening seven years haven’t done me much good; more grey hairs, more wrinkles and more scars, but Dyscarnate seems not to have lost a step in that time. The group seems to be cranking out much the same type of sharp, tight, rhythmically focused death metal that briefly caught my ear years ago.
Label: Unique Leader.
Dyscarnate is perhaps only nominally a death metal band, simply because it’s the closest style that fits. The band is certainly heavy and brutal and there are plenty of growled vocals, but certain hallmarks of the style are absent. For instance the band eschews tremolo picking almost entirely, eliminating death metal’s primary melodic vehicle. Tight choppy riffs, somewhat similar in style to Lamb of God, are Dyscarnate’s primary tools. The similarity to Lamb of God is more striking when vocalist/guitarist Tom Whitty uses his upper register shriek. There is a strain of modern hardcore running through the band’s music as well, most notable in its penchant for chunky breakdowns. Certainly many death and grind bands are no strangers to the breakdown, but Dyscarnate’s breakdowns seem to owe more to Hatebreed than Suffocation, but that’s probably splitting hairs. Whatever one makes of Dyscarnate’s sound it is clear that the band is not beholden to the old school or any other school. Dyscarnate’s sound isn’t revolutionary, but the band’s style is its own.
Dyscarnate is at its best when its intensity is highest. Early album tracks such as “This is Fire” and “Iron Strengthens Iron” get mired in a mid-paced groove and feel a bit clunky. With All Their Might picks up considerably in its second half. “To End All Flesh Before Me” plods along for the first minute and a half, but then breaks into some blistering thrash-styled picking that brings the song to life, kicking and screaming. “Backbreaker” continues the upswing with four minutes of brutish pummeling, but the undisputed highlight of the album is “All the Devils Are Here,” wherein the synthesis of Whitty’s high-velocity picking and drummer Matt Unsworth’s double bass bombardment showcase the Dyscarnate machine running at peak efficiency and effectiveness. The circle-pit-ready breakdown that closes out the track is the testosterone-laced icing on the cake.
With All their Might‘s nearly eight-minute final track, “Nothing Seems Right”, is a bit of a curve ball. A slow burner built on some vaguely dissonant, atmospheric guitar figures, the track involves more melody than any other song on the album. Though the band’s typically brutality erupts a few times in the middle, the song is, on balance, more somber than angry, closing out the album with plaintive cry, rather than a roar. The track isn’t a homerun, but it shows that Dyscarnate is capable of more than relentless battery.
If chunky, heavy-handed riffing and industrial-strength drumming float your boat, With All Their Might is for you. I find the band’s direct approach to aural punishment refreshing, but if old-school is the only school for you, be warned that Dyscarnate is very much a band of the 21st Century.