[Artwork by Terry Grow]
Are you, reader, currently sitting in a spinny chair? Even if you’re sitting in a comfy chair, let’s break all of Michael’s rules and go ahead and spin in the comfy chair. Let’s do a couple dozen revolutions to get that brain all loosened up. Can’t spin? That’s fine. Maybe you can contract West Nile Virus and get your brain all gelatinous and ready for assimilation by the metronomic robots in Dysrhythmia. The law firm of Marston, Hufnagel & Eber are ready to take your worries and shove them down your sorry throat with carefully crafted tracks that defy the simple confines of the metal genre.
You get the idea, right? Dysrhythmia are one talented group of fuckers. (Sorry for cursing.) That point simply cannot be stressed enough.
Where The Veil of Control relied on dissonance and unbalance to keep you off kilter, Terminal Threshold represents a very different beast. The album is about as aggressive as Dysrhythmia gets. Riffs, chunky block chords and some brain-melting “solos” will clue you in that the power trio has been gearing up for wordless battle for the last three years. Your neck will bob around, your hands will happily slap away at any flattish surface as they attempt to add to the polyrhythmic approach (spoiler alert: you can’t keep up with Eber) and your toes will tap-tap-tap away as this albums bounds forth with pugnacity and enthusiasm not terribly characteristic of earlier Dysrhythmia.
Right off the bat, it’s easy to see that song length has been cut down more than your forty-and-over recreation basketball league. Most tracks hover between three and four (four-and-a-half, if you’re really looking) minutes. That’s something of a departure for Dysrhythmia, who never shy away from a longer track and usually keep their tunes aloft for well over four minutes. “Plague Delay” calls to mind Dysrhythmia’s dissonant, unsettling composition style of past, but the track quickly rolls itself into something of a musical cinnabon—crunchy edges and sweet raisin nuggets tucked in between the sugar-swamped layers of sweet dough. There’s all the unsettling feeling of guilt and remorse involved in over-indulging, but the composition also provides all the warmth, familiarity and desire-for-seconds that the sugary “snack” would provide. It’s the balance of emotions—the ability to find firm footing among the musical cracks—that serve to enhance Dysrhythmia’s already elite level of composition, performance and production.
Similarly, tracks like “Rule of the Mountain” don’t shy away from letting you know just how big and ambitious the design and configuration of the overall album arc is. As Marston plucks loose, chorus and reverb-laden bass strings adorned with a fretless smoothness, the guitar works like a hacksaw knifing and cutting to leave frayed ends of harmony to drift off into the subspace—a message sent on all subspace frequencies for those lost in the quadrant.
“Twin Stalkers” represents a heavy, nearly industrial (calm down, just in the outro riff) addition to the band’s catalog. It’s robotic, heavy and caustic. Combative with the listener as Hufnagel plays canonic, simply-picked single-note riffs over Eber’s spastically accurate rhythms. For all the “dis” in their name (sound not spelling) the band is tighter than an immature pinot noir crammed into a vacuum bag and stuffed into a box for retail. As the track speeds forth, holding the main riff as a mile marker, the guitar unleashed eagle-screams above and around the main compositional components before the main riff, layered heavier than a Neurosis breakdown. The track is emblematic of Dysrhytmia’s approach to songwriting on Terminal Threshold. While things are platonically simple, they are never what they seem and the band finds ways to complicate the matter in the most stupendously simple ways.
It’s difficult to write about Dysrhythmia without falling into the trap of hyperbole, excessive praise and just pure, old-fashioned geeking-out over their musical abilities not only as individuals but as a well-honed collective. Suffice it to say that all of the things that could be said in an embarrassing fashion while gushing with mellifluous praise and only a slight bit of drool are as present and obvious on Terminal Threshold as they have ever been with these lads. Let’s just go with the idea that the latest LP represents yet another master class in melody, rhythm and instrumental interplay revolving around technical prowess, emotive composition and subtle modality.