At my first encounter with the band, when I listened to their 2013 first LP “Sentience”, I sensed there was something special going on. That “deathcore” label really didn’t fit them well. I liked how they managed to blend that energy and heaviness with remarkable amounts of melody without coming off as unbalanced nor trite in any way.
Fast forward to present day. With this new EP, “Disperse”, the Italian Udine-based band just made the natural step up from that musical environment. They managed to retain the same amounts of energy and drive while increasing the melodic content with a more modern-approached, chord voicings-based guitar playing without resulting anywhere near to cheesy. The result is some really enjoyable 23-ish minutes of fresh heavy music in which the “deathcore” label is now left far behind. Let’s dive into it.
Straight from the very beginning of Act I: Gaze Of Leviathan we can notice the step up in catchiness from the previous work, with a wise balance between heaviness and melody (by the way, the opening carries the same melodic theme which will be further reprised and expanded in the last track Act V, if my ears are not mistaken).
Drums (programmed, maybe?) sustain the overall drive well, alternating between simple grooving and high-energy blasting. Vocals are versatile, going from screams to low gutturals. Vocalist Jei has surely grown as an artist.
Still some percussive “djenty” passages -which I don’t like much- are present, but weighted against some nice riffing and counterpoint soloing. A little room is still kept for pretty straightforward breakdowns.
The percussive Act II: Panoptic Servant is in my book maybe the most “deathcore-ish” of the bunch, although I hate to use that term. The label really doesn’t do justice to the guys, but let’s say I feel some reminiscence. Lots of palm muted riffing, gutturals here and there, creative guitar lines and sudden pace changes make up the track.
Gather Void lets us breathe. A condensed electro interlude with synths and glitches. We’ll have another filler later, the fifth track Wither Sight, a bit more on the industrial \ ambient feel.
Act III: Transcendental Observer brings again some nice balance between melodic apertures and tight riffing and indulges, in my opinion, in a more “modern death metal” kind of territory.
Act IV: Herald Of Blindness sets the usual dynamic changes: melodic breaths opposed to breakdowns, sustained by driving drums. Here’s another track still bearing some deathcore aftertaste, at least to me. I also sense some Meshuggah influence in the second half of it, as well as and some black metal-ish influence.
Ladies and gentlemen, here comes the grand finale. Act V: Dissipating Martyrs is for sure my standout track. Not a single element I’d change, such a great tune with a simple structure but so much enjoyable at each single listen.
Possibly the most melodic track on the EP. Great lyrics? Check. Nice, catchy melodic traits? Check. Energy and drive? Sure, check.
Throughout the song, melodies wander in between the uplifting and the melancholic as the lyrics and overall arrangement shift in mood from heroic soliloquy to pessimistic\nihilistic elevation of the abstract sentient protagonist-Self beyond the sense of humanity towards greater horizons, as hope is gone in the senseless human community and in everything impermanent. The entire set of lyrics to this track is worth a read. By the way, in this EP the band is still carrying on and expanding upon the theme of human condition started with “Sentience”, still with very abstract lyrics.
The finale resolves the overall buildup in a way that’s pretty much what I’d call “epic”. Three or maybe four chords, for so much feel. Sure a live show-proof track (I can definitely picture a massive singalong on the closing section) and overall a great, energetic album closer. Got goosebumps every time!
Closing up, Disperse has been a really appreciated effort. I hope to keep watching Despite Exile escalading on their path to maturity! Already excited thinking about a new album. Definitely advised EP if you’re a fan of modern metal. Props, guys! Well done.