Avichi, Disma unleash dark journeys to different places

Two new releases from one of metal’s most reliable labels made for some pretty good listening the past few weeks. One of them is the follow-up to one of the more impressive debut albums of 2007, and the other features one of death metal’s most vital voices with a relatively new band whose new record spews muck and morbidity.

Profound Lore has had another all-star year – Loss, Dark Castle, A Storm of Light, Krallice, Subrosa – and there still are plenty of releases yet to come – The Atlas Moth, YOB, Leviathan – that will give me a ton to write about at this site for the rest of 2011. The two albums we’ll discuss today only solidify the label’s reputation and give listeners two completely different experiences. Avichi, a one-man black metal project that debuted with 2007’s excellent “The Divine Tragedy” has an interesting look at an ages-old topic, while classic death metal grinders Disma brings Craig Pillard back into the forefront of the death metal conversation with a powerfully impressive debut full-length.

We’ll start with Avichi and “The Devil’s Fractal,” the second full-length created by Andrew “Aamonael” Markuszewski , who’s also a member of other heavy hitters Nachtmystium and Lord Mantis. On this record he tackles Satan and what he has meant to the world since the dawn of time, but it’s not just a blood-and-horror display that many other bands have tried over the years. Instead, it sounds like equal parts history lesson, homage and ceremony that, if you pay close enough attention and spend enough time with the record, can feel downright chilling. It’s not one you can write off with one of those, “Oh, it’s just for show,” brushoffs. It appears every word, thought, note of music, and emotion that went into this thing is legitimate and not just done to sell T-shirts or get people to point a finger in disgust. Though, my guess is it’ll do those two things as well.

“The Devil’s Fractal” isn’t awash in speed and fury. Instead, it’s a more mid-paced record that seems designed to set a stage for proper storytelling. The record also sounds like one that could have been made by a Swedish or Nordic artist, as it doesn’t really have many U.S. black metal trappings, despite Aamonael hailing from Chicago. In addition, there’s a true sense of adventure and exploration throughout these seven cuts. The record opens with “Sermon on the Mount,” that has a bit of a proggish tone before it unfurls into darkness. “Under Satan’s Sun” sounds a bit like classic Watain, with Aamonael hoping to, “Eat the fruits of your wisdom,” showing yet again the devotion behind the philosophy of “The Devil’s Fractal.” “Tabernacle of Perdition” gallops and seems to indicate a spiritual transformation; “I Am the Adversary” has an early ’90s, church burning-era savagery to it; while dual title cut closers let the whole thing boil over, with the first part being the more imaginative of the two and the second having some hints of Black Sabbath doom sludge and even early Megadeth (kind of funny, considering the subject matter).

“The Devil’s Fractal” may need to be heard a few times before it sinks in, and as much as I love “The Divine Tragedy,” I needed a few trips with the thing before it felt right to me. As of now, I still prefer Avichi’s debut record, an album I listen to quite often to this day, but a year from now, I could change my mind. It’s a work in progress for me emotionally. I have a different reaction every time I hear “The Devil’s Fractal” – always a positive one, however – and I appreciate having a record that can hit me somewhere new no matter how much time I spend with it.

For more on Avichi, go here: http://www.myspace.com/avichispace

To buy “The Devil’s Fractal,” go here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com//index.php?option=com_ezcatalog&task=detail&id=766&Itemid=99999999

Disma should make fans of early Incantation shake in their shoes. That’s because the man who lent his hellish voice to that group’s classic albums such as “Onward to Golgotha” and “Mortal Throne of Nazarene,” as well as to other bands such as Womb, Disciples of Mockery, Goreaphobia and others, is now fronting Disma. Alongside him are guitarists Daryl Kahan (Funebrarum, Taste of Fear, Assück) and Bill Venner (Incantation), bassist Randi Stokes (Methadrone), and drummer Shawn Eldridge (Funebrarum, Abysmal Gates), so we’re looking at a formidable supergroup-style assault unit that hammers an upper deck home run on their first full-length “Towards the Monolith.”

Before this record was released, the band had a demo, split and EP to their name, but this is their crowning jewel by far. The eight cuts on this album are doom-flushed, sometimes sludgy, often thrashy, and always ugly, positioning the record as a no-brainer purchase for those who dine on classic death metal. Pillard is at his infernal best on this record, staying at a low, monstrous rumble, sounding like a demon restlessly digging his way through layers of soil from hell to the Earth’s surface. Simply, he’s one of the best vocalists in the genre, and he’s as deadly as ever before. The rest of the band is tight and fluid, and their presentation on this album is one of a band doing this shit live and not cutting and pasting pieces together. It’s raw and honest, and it’s one of the best representations of classic death metal in some time, probably because the men behind this thing have years of experience creating the genre. They weren’t born yesterday.

“Chaos Apparition” opens this thing with a meaty, down-tuned attitude, with Pillard’s growls lurching alongside the filthy guitar work and quaking blasts. “Chasm of Oceanus” is my personal favorite song on this record, which starts murky but eventually explodes into thrashing and a more explosive tempo; “Vault of Membros” pays some homage to Sabbath and St. Vitus, with its slithering, slow-driving delivery; while the mammoth title cut absolutely drubs your senses with its unforgiving heaviness, noisy crust, and Pillard’s demands to, “Crawl to your grave.” “Towards the Monolith” is menacing, worm-infested, and ready for eternity in a rickety casket. It’s a wholly satisfying trip back to when death metal didn’t smell very good, sure wasn’t pretty, and promised you that, if you aren’t careful, you’ll breath your last breath in the most uncomfortable manner possible.

For more on Disma, go here: http://www.myspace.com/dismadeathmetal

To buy “Towards the Monolith,” go here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com//index.php?option=com_ezcatalog&task=detail&id=767&Itemid=99999999

For more on the label, go here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/