Album: The Apogee
The sky blackens; the sun is blotted out by a darkness so thick it feels as if the earth has been engulfed in tar. The oceans rise, continents are flooded—in an instant, humanity is underwater, drowning in murky, pitch black. In a matter of minutes, the endless oceans that submerged even the most towering skyscrapers are frozen over—as earth has become a barren, frozen wasteland, slowly cracking into shards as molten fragments of the earth’s magma core flow upwards to the surface. From above, it looks almost time-lapsed, as the world’s end occurs at a pace that puts fast-forward to shame—the spectacular demise of mankind was at hand, for in an instant it occurred and ended, ceasing life as we know it. This terrestrial implosion occurred in merely thirty-nine minutes: the exact runtime of The Apogee. Kiev-based self-dubbed regressive mathcore act Dysphoria are at it again, combining unbelievable technicality with soul-smothering heaviness to provide an album dense and relentless enough to end all life as we know it—as The Apogee not only describes the pinnacle position to observe planet earth, but rather, it describes the apex of modern music that Dysphoria have become synonymous with.
Those of you not familiar with Dysphoria must be warned: nothing these unstoppable Ukrainians do is half-assed—everything is extreme, and in this case, everything is done extremely well. In a word, The Apogee’s instrumentation is tiring: from the first disastrous breakdown of “The Apogee of Human Race Time Being” to the eerie fretwork that concludes “Dimensionless Appetite,” the listener doesn’t get a nanosecond of rest. Whether their ears are getting torn to shreds by jarring mixtures of machine-gun blast beats and out-of-nowhere fills, or their skin is getting sliced by razor sharp riffs and screeching harmonics, the listener is doomed from the start. Throughout the album, Dysphoria’s percussion is peerless—remarkably fast and almost impossible to keep up with during portions of “Conditions” and “Nemesis Shores,” yet diving into groovy, bouncy patterns during the almost-refrain portion of “Discretion Leak,” and even experimenting with atmosphere during the surreal, beautiful track “Ashes”—the closest thing a listener gets to a break for the entire album’s runtime. However, where the drumming is frantic and multifaceted, the guitar and bass are simply insane. Fans of Dysphoria’s sophomore release, To The Perfect Form of Modern Species will almost certainly hear remnants of “Aftereffect” in The Apogee’s “The Apogee of Human Race Time Being,” while tracks like “Ashes” and “Creatures” provide a new, more mature sounding style of chug-riff-groove amalgamation that listeners will find beautiful, brutalizing solace in. From the album’s perfect perfection to Dysphoria’s penchant for truly unique riff-writing and song-structure, The Apogee is an album that puts the instrumentation of contemporary technical deathcore (or “regressive mathcore”) outfits to shame.
This is the part where most bands would let the listener down; with such insane, intense and awesome instrumentation, one would expect the band’s vocal element to be lacking at best. However, Dysphoria simply fail to disappoint. The Apogee’s enamoring vocal element is just as incredible as the band’s nearly-indescribable instrumentation. With everything from piercing screams to punishing lows, there is no vocal stone Dysphoria leave unturned, improving upon the only areas that their past releases saw difficulty with. “Forlorn” is likely the album’s vocal pinnacle, beginning the track with gruff, gritty shouts to compliment the low, swinging groove and splashy, bouncy percussion—however, as catchy grooves are replaced with lacerating blast beats and sweeping, insanely technical fretwork, the vocal element becomes more diverse, matching the high-to-low sweeps with guttural growls that rise to ear-shredding screams seemingly without effort. “Nemesis Shores” is another track with an eviscerating, visceral vocal performance—however, realistically, every track Dysphoria offer on The Apogee is a well rounded, devastatingly diverse gift of vocal intensity and instrumental innovation that leaves the listener completely bewildered and begging for death by the time the album has run its course.
If Dysphoria is to be observed as a beast—fitting, given the band’s uncanny ability to tear the listener into strips of flesh and shards of bone—then their discography is the evolution of the beast. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that The Apogee lives up to it’s name, functioning as the relative apex of the band’s work thus far. Every riff, fill, groove, chug and scream is done with practiced intent. Gone are the days of callous, wonton over-the-top and directionless technicality as seen on Satyriasis XXI. Perfected and smoothed over are the slight bumps and incoherencies of To The Perfect Form of Modern Species—rather, what’s left is an unthinking, unfeeling and uncaring juggernaut of complete annihilation: The Apogee. Every out-of-nowhere pinch harmonic and unpredictable lurch or turn in a track’s path to the listener’s brain is done with practiced, perfected precision. The moment in “Dimensionless Appetite” where Dysphoria almost trick the listener into falling for their hint of a straightforward, run-of-the-mill groove is a perfect example. A subtle series of harmless chugs—an attempt at foreshadowing an oncoming breakdown—is cast asunder as Dysphoria instead opt to shred the listener’s brain into confetti with what-the-hell-was-that blast beats and I-didn’t-know-guitars-could-do-that screeches and squeals. Dysphoria rarely take the predictable path in their twisting, turning song structure—and when they do, it definitely isn’t the easy path they take. No band does heavy music like Dysphoria—that much is a fact.
Circling the earth, observing its destruction with callous, cold composure, Dysphoria rise above their past efforts with The Apogee. The band’s third studio album is a picture-perfect display of punishment, aggression and technicality that does far more than perfect the modern species, but rather, goes so far as to perfect modern music.
For Fans Of: Caligula’s Horse, Beneath the Wake, War From a Harlot’s Mouth, Vijerah.
By: Connor Welsh