I’ve reviewed a decent amount of crappy records for AMG, and each one elicited a unique reaction. Some made me laugh; some made me cry; others still bored me to sleep or left me scratching my head wondering “why all the hype?” Listening to Cosmic Progression: An Agonizing Journey Through Oddities of Space, the debut LP of Poland’s Deconstructing Sequence, made for an unexpected new emotional response to add to my repertoire of negative thinkpieces: I was actually rooting for this band. Deconstructing Sequence’s ambitions are larger than life, with an incalculable number of influences being pulled into the fray, and the fact that such a young and inexperienced band would even attempt something of this caliber is admirable. That being said, it’s a colossal mess.
Deconstructing Sequence is everything, and I certainly don’t mean that in the way that clickbait rags do when obnoxiously referring to something as being “good.” The foundation of Cosmic Progression is laid by a synth-n-choirs framework that recalls the cosmic cheese of Dol Ammad, but within that aesthetic they pull in sounds as wide-ranging as Origin’s prog-death riff cacophony, Dimmu Borgir’s overblown blackened theatrics, and other clear inspirations from various black and death metal bands, plus one seriously misguided venture into bouncy electro-pop (“V4641 Sgr”). As messy of a meltpot as Cosmic Progression is, it at least manages some semblance of uniformity; DS’s wonky rhythmic shifts and synth effects grant them a defined sound that remains consistent track-to-track. And say what you will about the band’s dense, bludgeoning sound, but the record is rarely ever boring with so much going on, which can hardly ever be said for any band receiving the score you’ll arrive at in three paragraphs’ time.
But boy oh boy is that score ever deserved. I shudder to think of the sheer number of riffs Deconstructing Sequence packed into this thing, but even after five or so full listens, I struggle to recall a single one. The interplay of cacophonic riffs and breakneck drumming, combined with the overbearing keys, is a total assault on the ears, and more often than not leaves me unintentionally tuning out to escape the pervasive wall of lurching, hookless noise. The rare instances of restrained stringwork actually prove even more irritating, with the band periodically devolving into the single-note nu metal chugs of yore as if unsure how to handle any material that doesn’t involve blastbeats. Making matters worse is the overall absence of flow; awkward prog rhythms feel technical for technicality’s sake, with both individual rhythms and movement shifts generally lacking sensical structures.
Yet Deconstructing Sequence displays immense potential in isolated moments. The stomping modern black metal riffs of “Dark Matter” in particular could stand toe-to-toe with Satyricon’s modern offerings, while penultimate cut “Supernova (The Battle For Matter Begins)” somehow crams both swampy Immolation riffs and Dimmu Borgir theatricality into the same space without sounding forced. Even so, the shit-tier production job makes would-be palatable passages difficult to stomach; this is the most offensively loud record I’ve heard in my stint at this blog, and any area where I might have otherwise been engaged with Cosmic Progression is squandered by what I hereby dub “bonkbeats.” You know, when blastbeat-heavy music is paired with a snare tone that makes an unintentionally comical bonk sound? Bonkbeats. The rest of the instrumental tones sound distractingly stock as well, but nothing quite compares to the ceaseless stream of bonkbonkbonkbonkbonkbonkbonkbonkbonkbonk. What the fuck, Deconstructing Sequence. This is bonkers.
There are certain instances where the bonks are swapped for a good ol’ fashioned snare sound, and I wonder if I would be able to engage with Cosmic Progression on a deeper level was it to receive a complete production overhaul. Regardless, Deconstructing Sequence’s extensive problems aren’t confined to its engineering, and despite making for an absolutely nutso listening experience, I can’t in good conscience recommend this record to anyone beyond the morbidly curious. With the level of ambition and talent poured into Cosmic Progression, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for the band to take the initiative to heavily rework their approach to instrumentation and songwriting, but when compared to their potential, Deconstructing Sequence is off to a relatively agonizing start. BONK.