Rating:
7.5
Disperse - Living Mirrors
15 February 2013


01. Dancing With Endless Love
02. Enigma Of Abode
03. Profane The Ground
04. Prana
05. Message From Atlantis
06. WOW!
07. Universal Love
08. Be Afraid Of Nothing
09. Unbroken Shiver
10. Touching The Golden Cloud
11. Butoh
12. Choices Over Me
13. AUM


Release dates
- February 15: Europe
- February 19: North America


As much as I love old progressive rock like King Crimson, Yes, Hawkwind, and Van Der Graaf Generator, most progressive metal tends to fall short for me. A lot of the bands within the style tend to appear to have an attitude of ultra showmanship by any means: you know, the types of bands that think they're cool for being able to cram over 100 time signature shifts into one song. Extravagance for the sake of extravagance, a feature that for me gets real old real quick. Poland's Disperse, however, are pleasingly different. With this band, it's more about the atmosphere of the music than it is about the technicality, and by focusing more on the music's mood than sheer virtuosity, they have managed to craft a fairly decent release with 2013's Living Mirrors.

Upon first listening to Living Mirrors, it would probably come across to the average person as modern prog metal employing the same formula as has become typical nowadays within the genre. And this would be a correct assumption actually, because the core of Disperse's sound does indeed rest upon that syncopated, off-beat, Meshuggah-type of riffage that has become something of a trademark within prog metal's composition these days (see "Unbroken Shiver" and "Enigma Of Abode" especially). So at face value, Disperse seem like just another wannabe djent band, or something along those lines. What, then, makes them stand out?

Well, the answer to that question comes in the dreamlike vibe that the band's two guitarists manage to generate with the beauty of their interweaving melodies. The beginning of "Message From Atlantis" is especially good; when the vocals kick in powerfully over that little mellow riff, it almost makes you feel as though you're in the legendary city of the track's title. This ethereal, subconscious-like atmosphere can make the album feel highly psychedelic at points, which is a pleasant, more relaxing shift away from the raw virtuosity that many other progressive contemporaries so often demonstrate. But the talent of Disperse's guitarist comes not only in their general melodies, but also in their excellently-carved leads, which demonstrate a mature technique of focusing more on individual notes for the sake of atmosphere than on a multitude of notes for the sake of awe. Check out around 2 minutes into "Unbroken Shiver," the middle of "Enigma Of Abode," and the brief intro to "Choices Over Me."

So in final judgment, Living Mirrors is, all around, a pretty good (above average, to be fair) cut of modern prog metal. A lot of the typical staples are there, such as the monotonous, chugging type of riff delivery and the vocals that sound a bit on the alternative side, like something out of a metalcore band, but that are much better in their overall delivery. At times this more conventional approach can make the listener (like me) that's fond of more outlandish types of composition a bit disappointed, as though Disperse should have further developed the psychedelic side of Living Mirrors into some stranger (possibly mind bending?) territory. But having said that, taken for what it is, the album's more atmospheric moments compensate for its more predictable ones, helping to give it an interesting (if not entirely unique) identity. Furthermore, Living Mirrors shows that Disperse definitely have potential to grow, and will hopefully push the more original moments of the album into some more mind-blowing areas in their future.

Performance: 7
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 7


 



Written on 23.03.2013 by
Apothecary
Your friend the witch doctor.
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K†ulu - 23.03.2013 at 23:39  
Hmm, it seems to me there is plenty of progressive metal out there (especially the big names), which do not focus on constant time signature changes and showmanship. Take Symphony X, Riverside, Pain of Salvation, Adagio, Seventh Wonder, Threshold, Dream Theater. I guess you are talking about the really new school bands, which are often 50% djent.
Apothecary - 23.03.2013 at 23:58  
Written by K†ulu on 23.03.2013 at 23:39

Hmm, it seems to me there is plenty of progressive metal out there (especially the big names), which do not focus on constant time signature changes and showmanship. Take Symphony X, Riverside, Pain of Salvation, Adagio, Seventh Wonder, Threshold, Dream Theater. I guess you are talking about the really new school bands, which are often 50% djent.

A reason I say that is probably because I don't listen to enough prog, in all honesty
Not that I don't enjoy the genre, but it's mostly avante-garde black metal and trippy stoner metal for me these days. I'm more than sure though that there are plenty of bands out there that don't go for that edge of blatant showmanship, and props to them. Symphony X are actually a good example, thanks for reminding me... they didn't immediately come to mind for me. And although Dream Theater don't either, at times they can get pretty in-your-face about their abilities. That "over 100 time signature shift" part in this review is actually a reference to Dream Theater. There's a song of theirs (don't know which) that has like 106 shifts or something like that in it. And there's also a video on Youtube of Mike Portnoy counting them all out with the song in the background
qlacs - 24.03.2013 at 01:14  
All things considered this album still kicked them out of my proggie library.
DrM - 24.03.2013 at 01:42  
Written by qlacs on 24.03.2013 at 01:14

All things considered this album still kicked them out of my proggie library.

Really with you on that matter. They've lost me completely with this one...
R'Vannith - 24.03.2013 at 15:22  
I don't think showmanship is a bad thing, only when it detracts from whatever makes a band interesting does it get on my nerves. Some can make a fine show of things as well keeping it all interesting, a matter of going overboard I suppose. It's a rotten stigma the genre is stuck with. Usually I won't avoid listening if a band is described in such a way as it often depends upon personal judgement on just how much is too much noodling.
The more modern styles of prog metal that like to merge with that djent sound isn't my cup of tea, though I'll have a listen to this regardless I think, you make it sound interesting enough for me.
JohnDoe - 24.03.2013 at 16:46  
A good effort but their previous album was so much better; I was surprised at the new direction they got.
K†ulu - 24.03.2013 at 21:59  
I have found that video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7jikeIyKaE. But you see, "Dance of Eternity" is incredibly musical regardless of those constant time signature changes; when you listen to the song you do not hear that because it the whole thing is quite cohesive. Another example would actually be the famous "Master of Puppets." There the main riff is played with constant change between 4/4 and 5/8, but again one does not feel there is something weird and edgy going on. Again, the reason is that it is a single.

Things get "too technical" when many ideas are crammed together in a short time span, and you don't even need to change time signatures. One prog band that sometimes takes it over the top is Zero Hour.
Tristus Scriptor - 27.03.2013 at 00:48  
"With this band, it's more about the atmosphere of the music than it is about the technicality..."

This is what I wish a lot of bands nowadays would pay more mind to. Especially death metal bands. (And I realize that genre has nothing to do with this band. Jus' sayin'.)

Great review, by the way. Heading elsewhere to get a taste of this right now...
Apothecary - 27.03.2013 at 03:56  
Written by Tristus Scriptor on 27.03.2013 at 00:48

"With this band, it's more about the atmosphere of the music than it is about the technicality..."

This is what I wish a lot of bands nowadays would pay more mind to. Especially death metal bands.

You took the words right out of my m̶o̶u̶t̶h̶ fingers man. Talent doesn't necessarily have to mean virtuosity, and sometimes bands with very basic song structures can create magnificent moods with their music just by going with a simple "less is more" type of mentality. It's also good for band members to focus on their abilities rather than their inabilities; when there's a band struggling to push themselves over the edge with elaborate songwriting/structures, you can usually notice, because it doesn't sound pretty. Talent means very little if one doesn't know how to channel it properly, but then, of course, learning how to is something of an individual journey
Tristus Scriptor - 27.03.2013 at 23:28  
Written by Apothecary on 27.03.2013 at 03:56

Written by Tristus Scriptor on 27.03.2013 at 00:48

"With this band, it's more about the atmosphere of the music than it is about the technicality..."

This is what I wish a lot of bands nowadays would pay more mind to. Especially death metal bands.

Talent means very little if one doesn't know how to channel it properly, but then, of course, learning how to is something of an individual journey

You and I share the exact same view on this. By the way- the album is wonderful. Thank you for introducing me to it.
tea[m]ster - 28.03.2013 at 00:47  
I kinda dig this. Has some good hooks and riffs and a pretty solid vox.
K†ulu - 19.04.2013 at 10:23  
Listened up to "WOW!" --> not my cup of tea, and nothing motivates me to listen any further. I would not call this prog metal. Let's call a spade a spade: this is djent, even if atmospheric.
Apothecary - 19.04.2013 at 15:14  
Written by K†ulu on 19.04.2013 at 10:23

Listened up to "WOW!" --> not my cup of tea, and nothing motivates me to listen any further. I would not call this prog metal. Let's call a spade a spade: this is djent, even if atmospheric.

Well, see, then you get into an issue that I myself have with djent. Personally I don't consider it it's own genre. It's merely a technique employed within the genre of progressive metal. That's what irritates me a bit with djent and shoegaze being considered there own movements these days: people think they've created an entirely new genre just by slightly altering the musical formula of another, and in my opinion it takes a lot more than that. "Djent" is pretty much heavily palm-muted, polyrhythmic, syncopated prog metal... but it's still prog metal.
K†ulu - 20.04.2013 at 13:55  
Written by Apothecary on 19.04.2013 at 15:14

Written by K†ulu on 19.04.2013 at 10:23

Listened up to "WOW!" --> not my cup of tea, and nothing motivates me to listen any further. I would not call this prog metal. Let's call a spade a spade: this is djent, even if atmospheric.

Well, see, then you get into an issue that I myself have with djent. Personally I don't consider it it's own genre. It's merely a technique employed within the genre of progressive metal. That's what irritates me a bit with djent and shoegaze being considered there own movements these days: people think they've created an entirely new genre just by slightly altering the musical formula of another, and in my opinion it takes a lot more than that. "Djent" is pretty much heavily palm-muted, polyrhythmic, syncopated prog metal... but it's still prog metal.

I see your point but on the other hand, some bands started exploiting this palm-muted syncopated riffing to the point that people started calling labeling these bans "djent" because of the distinct sound. Also, while you say djent does not deserve to be considered a separate genre, I, on the other hand, don't want the bands who play it to be put in the same category as Dream Theater, Symphony X, Riverside, and Pain of Salvation.
Apothecary - 20.04.2013 at 18:41  
Written by K†ulu on 20.04.2013 at 13:55

Also, while you say djent does not deserve to be considered a separate genre, I, on the other hand, don't want the bands who play it to be put in the same category as Dream Theater, Symphony X, Riverside, and Pain of Salvation.

Oh they won't be, trust me
3rdWorld - 06.11.2013 at 09:46  
God awful clean vocals. Instrumentation is good but does nothing to me. *flushes*

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