At last, an album that’s the musical equivalent to falling face first into a cesspool. Crusty, endlessly filthy, unspeakably nasty and no amount of showering will ever get you truly clean. That’s what you can expect when you press play on the debut by New Jersey’s toxic swamp denizens Disma. Towards the Megalith is eight grueling sojourns through the terrifying underbelly of old school death metal a la Autospy, Grave and Entombed. Featuring several members of the brutal death act Funebrarum, this is not the least bit “modern,” nor does it bear the slightest trace of “melo-death.” If you’re familiar with the level of corpse grinding heaviness Funebrarum delivers, then you have an idea where this is going, but this is even murkier and more corrosive. Yes, these songs are the dregs stuck to the bottom of the musical septic tank. Appealing to the current lust for old school Swedish and American death and joining acts like Entrails and Blood Mortized in the crusty scab sweepstakes, Disma shows just how raw and ugly things can get while still being thouroughly enjoyable, though this will be too much for many to digest (ewww). If you haven’t already gotten up to find this, kindly wait until you finish reading this stellar piece of prose.
First thing you are forced to notice is the super raw and quite frankly hellish sound Towards the Megalith beats you senseless with. The fuzzed out, noxious guitar tone from old Entombed and Dismember albums, the rattling, abrasive mix and most notably, the vocal spewage from Craig Pillard. Placed way up in the mix, Pillard’s deep, pestilent roar sounds like its coming from a cavernous storm drain and couldn’t be more evil and effective. Opener “Chaos Apparition” brings to mind the nastiest moments of General Surgery, Carcass and Autopsy and swings wildly from blasting to slow, grinding doom. Rich in murk and dire atmosphere, its an instant goregrind classic with the creepy factor set to maximum. Its loaded with cool, nasty and jagged riffing and Pillard’s ridiculously low-register, vile wretching puts it over the top into insanity. Not catchy or melodic to any except death metal fans, but for them it will sound damn good. The album’s epic “Chasm of Oceanus” sports a maggot infested sound and riffs that are both menacing and memorable with some inspired doom riffage coming along at 5:08. “Spectral Domination” jacks up the pace and includes a great slithering, writhing riff that will remind of “God of Emptiness” by the once great Morbid Angel. You can almost see the slime trail after this riff slinks away. Other moments of deviant joy can be found during “Vault of Membros” (inspired riffing and some cool Black Sabbath guitar flourishes), “Purulent Quest” (for generally slimy buzzsaw riffing) and “Of a Past Forlorn” (excellent doom riffing at 3:37).
The guitar work by Bill Venner and Daryl Kahan is some of the coolest I’ve heard on a death album in awhile. Not flashy at all, quite the opposite really but thick, repellant and caustic. Whether going for faster thrashing riffs or true doom, they seem to throw the right riff in at the right moment to keep the listener engaged and on edge. While a lot of Towards the Megalith crawls along at doomy or mid-paced tempos, it somehow remains dynamic and interesting. This also makes the blasting segments feel all the more brutal. I can’t say enough about Pillard’s vocals here. Death metal obviously limits what the vocalist can do but this guy manages to let it all go and his demon on steroids approach is quite endearing. Its one of the nastier performances in recent memory.
Downsides? Not many. Some of the songs could be trimmed a bit but really, thats the only negative I see here. It’s going to be too much for many to get through in one sitting but that was the point. Its designed as the soundtrack to a schizo nightmare and let me say, mission accomplished! It has everything a fan of death metal could want except non-stop speed and there’s enough of that to keep most happy.
This is one of the foulest things to ever seep out of New Jersey and that’s saying something. Between this and Funebrarum, the ironically named Garden State is becoming the Gore and Grave State. Since I love old school death and the more rancid the better, I love this muchly. I recommend it for all fans of extremely rotten, fetid death metal. Just don’t listen to it if you have any open sores or cuts, its very unsanitary.