REVIEW: Dissimulator – This Is Darkness [2014]


Artist: Dissimulator

Album: This Is Darkness


Everyone knows someone—or is someone—who is absolutely terrified of the dark. To some, darkness is the epitome of evil; a pit of unknowing where negativity broods and begets nothing but sinister, writhing devilry. However, to others, darkness is synonymous with tranquility: an environment in which the most pure and cathartic means of meditation can be achieved. These people—lovers and loathers of the dark—are as night and day; readily discernable and enormously different. However, there’s a third category to the Venn-diagram of darkness dwellers—the type best exemplified by Tacoma’s Dissimulator, a faith-fueled four-piece that use their love of creating dissonant, destructive music to inspire catharsis and reflection both within themselves and the listener—crafting brilliant, inventive and passionate music with This Is Darkness in the process.

At first, This is Darkness looms in front of the listener, fearsome with depth and foreboding with tangible, acrid fury. Before long, it pounces upon them, as Dissimulator let loose with an onslaught of eviscerating, aggressive instrumentation that takes twists and turns as violent and unpredictable as the darkness itself. “Snak,” the very first track This Is Darkness hurls at the listener burns a hole right through their chest with intense, flaring fretwork and crushing, unstoppable percussion. David Montalvo lets loose with an array of everything from blistering blast beats to crushing, plodding down-tempo grooves within the track’s opening seconds. While Montalvo slaves away behind the skins, Zack Holt and DM Tragedy rage away on guitar and bass, building crushing tidal waves of magnificent magnitude that pour down upon the listener and crack through their bones like a steamroller over twigs. “This is Darkness” takes the same diverse, devastating approach—opening with lightning-like speed and fury, only to devolve into groove-driven mayhem that will have the listener snapping their neck with voracious, relentless head banging. A great majority of the tracks Dissimulator present throughout the album follow a trend of remarkable, intense instrumental diversity that shows enormous maturation over the relatively stagnant Factions. Where their debut effort Flatlined and delved into pits of hip-deep monotony, This Is Darkness uses musical mayhem and cunning creativity to leap over those pitfalls and keep the listener firmly engrossed in the album’s majesty.

Once the initial shock from the blistering, rigorous assault by Dissimulator’s daunting breed of darkness settles, it surrounds them with familiarity—a sense of order among the seemingly dissonant and chaotic moments found in This Is Darkness. The rampaging riffs that rollick into skin-rending and spine-shattering breakdowns become home, and seem to flow into one another brilliantly, without any form of aural shift-shock. This continuity, and surreal sense of immersion, come from the unifying factor found in the ferocious vocals of Jared Dines. Dines lets loose with everything from harsh, gruff shouts to an eerie, enrapturing clean-vocal croon that feels almost as if the listener is becoming enchanted by Dissimulator’s engaging breed of crushing, sinister aggression. Tracks like “Death for the Dead” display Dines’ stunning vocal diversity brilliantly—while Holt oscillates easily from haunting, ambient riffs to crushing dissonance, Dines roams from a chanted croon to a guttural, prolapse-inducing growl that hits the listener right in the gut. “The Day Satan Fell” is another track that aids in illustrating the vocal diversity throughout This Is Darkness, as Dines uses a shrill screech more often than on other songs, and his vocal patterning and dynamic is unparalleled. The short version is that Dines’ vocal efforts throughout Dissimulator’s sophomore full length is another way in which the band prove their maturation to metalcore mastery: diversity and depth unite to create a truly immersive aspect of the band’s storytelling method that will fail to disappoint even the most scrutinous fans of Factions.

With stunning vocals bridging the gap from serene and stellar riffing to sinfully dissonant brutality, Dissimulator do the impossible and truly define darkness, and make it the listener’s home. Fans of any sort of heavy, aggressive music will find solace in every second of This Is Darkness—whether it’s the metallic slamming of “Stray from the Lepers” or the climactic, crushing cataclysms of breakdown after breakdown brought about in “Killing Time” and “Shadows.” Likewise, once the listener is able to reassemble their shattered skeleton—and sanity—the darkness becomes their home, as the beautiful moments of “Orphans” and the serene “Thy Kingdom Come” reach out to the listener and offer salvation from the shredding, sheer insanity of the opening tracks. At some points—especially the album’s latter half—transitions between the drifting, lighter portions and firm, earthy heaviness seem contrived, or at the very least, repeated, this is assuaged in part by the awesome abilities of Dines—who is easily able to distract the listener from over-used transitions and gimmicky, “that-was-cool-once” digital effects.

Metaphors about darkness aside, at the end of the day, Dissimulator’s This Is Darkness is a release about overcoming the most egregious evils and loathsome fears of mankind and finding solace in them—which is precisely what the listener will have done by the end of the album. Dissimulator take all of the heaviest, most dense aspects of metalcore, deathcore and thrash metal and combine them into a groovy, engrossing and diverse experience that will keep the listener glued to the album as if it were their flashlight in the deep, dark cave of monotonous, mediocre metal.



For Fans Of: For Today, Impending Doom, Molotov Solution, Barrier

By: Connor Welsh