Album: Disigma – EP
There are things that, even in their most complete form, require improvement—addition, renovation and, in a word, completion. Take, for example, the Greek alphabet. Giving rise to linguistic systems Cyrillic, Italic and—of course—Latin, as well as developing a system for differentiating variations on the same letter (that’s the “case” system, in case you were wondering). Effectively, the Greek alphabet turns out it’s more useful than figuring out what all those letters on houses along your college’s frat row mean. The point is that, as written language began to expand, the Greek alphabet needed expansion, and transformation—it required dynamism—in order to stay relevant. Enter sampi—colloquially known as “Disigma”—one of the first symbols to be added to the ever-expanding thirst for knowledge and representation characterized by the Grecian writing system. More importantly, it is the name of Pennsylvania’s latest-and-greatest progressive metalcore act. Much in the same way that the Grecian Disigma was the answer to the incomplete state of the culture’s written language, Disigma, and their self-titled EP, serve as the renovation and addition to the hinge of technical and progressive metalcore, firmly joining the two where they were previously loose and distant. Atmospheric elements blend, ebb and melt together with stellar shred and bone-crushing brutality to create an EP as all-encompassing and genre-defining as the alphabet which serves as its namesake.
Aspects of Disigma are dense and dauntingly technical, packing skull-splitting percussion alongside soaring, labyrinthine riffs that trap the listener and force their sanity to wander, lost and confused until it slowly decays. “Hatchet” does this especially well, opening with absurd, fleet-footed percussion and rolling, looping bass that gives way to furiously fretted riffs that wind and snake around the track’s explosive percussion and into the listener’s head, staying stuck there and refusing to leave—until it is ousted by Disigma’s next mesmerizingly technical snippet, like those found in the drum fills of “A Disconnect,” or the introductory fretwork of “Sonder.” In this manner, Disigma showcase their absolutely stellar instrumental proficiency without presenting it in a monotonous manner. Rather than track after track of samey-sounding shred or “that same groove” over and over, guitarists Josh Mitchell and Sean Gallagher balance their penchants for six- (or seven-, or eight-) stringed showmanship with strongly structured grooves and absolutely soul-shredding breakdowns in order to create full-bodied and immersive songs with distinct, distinguishable personalities and feelings—feelings which find themselves manifested in the band’s other prong of their pitchforked dynamic.
With technicality enough to peel back the listener’s skin and pry off their fingernails, there has to be a counterweight—after all, while the sections of shred and portions of perfect percussion are densely written, they are far from distracting or detersive to the listening experience provided by Disigma’s self-titled EP. This is true because of the awe-inspiring amounts of over-the-top atmosphere that serve as a framing mechanism for the snippets of Gallagher and Mitchell’s marvelous musicianship. In these portions, airy, splashy percussion reigns as king, providing a vast, smooth sea for the guitars to sail and roam within. Meanwhile, bass guitar toils away like a serpent beneath it all, snaking through the waves, stalling—biding time, waiting for the perfect moment to leap to the listener’s attention. These soundscapes remain—for milliseconds or the better part of a minute—until the magnificent vocals of Cody Golob dictate when the mood shifts. “Crows,” as well as “A Disconnect” feature such brief moments of ethereal atmosphere—that is, until Golob says the word, and serene, smooth seas devolve into dissonant oceans of pure, raunchy destruction.
These moments of chug-friendly heaviness, however, are not Disigma’s defining point, which sets them far apart—and above—their peers. While many technical and progressive (or some bastardized hybrid of the two) metalcore bands still rely on unification through the all-Holy breakdown, Disigma simply don’t. Rather, they are capable of painting marvelous soundscapes and ensnare the listener in immersive, incredible song structure track after track by sheer dynamic instrumentation and brilliant, visceral vocals. Whether it’s the surprise appearance of Shae Portner (of Prime Meridian), Patrizio Arpaia (of Currents) or Golob’s innate ability to range from grisly gutturals to visceral, screechy screams, the vocals serve an idyllic “switch” to allow Disigma to flow from a state of aural flux and ethereal atmosphere to fast-paced and unbelievably intricate shred. Don’t get me wrong—Disigma get heavy, and they do it perfectly—but it isn’t what makes or breaks the band, or their release. Rather, Disigma’s self-titled EP is a picture-perfect painting of multifaceted, exceptionally balanced and all-inclusive metalcore; whether it’s the spine-witheringly technical or the coma-inducing atmosphere—passing through severe and brutalizing and collecting $200—Disigma do it all, and they do it all to the nines.
To put it simply, Disigma are the letter the metalcore alphabet needed—the perfectly placed punctuation mark in order to allow a smooth, full and complete thought to be made from the jumble of look-a-like, sound-the-same bands. Balancing immaculate tone, raunchy grooves, insane technicality and—of course—the heavy, Disigma leave nothing to be desired, and an archetype for metalcore bands to follow for eons to come.
For Fans Of: Prime Meridian, Volumes, Structures, Barrier, Dissimulator
By: Connor Welsh