Do you like Russian Circles, but wish they added more wank to their post-metalness? Do you adore King Crimson, but wish there was less wankery – er, Frippery – in the recipes? If so, Dysrhythmia might be the bowl of porridge that is just right for you. This east coast-based progressive power trio has been around since the turn of the millennium, churning out seven solid albums of instrumental prog metal during that time. It’s been four years since Dysrhythmia dropped an album on us, largely due to the fact that guitarist Kevin Hufnagel and bassist Colin Marston are now also in influential Canadian tech death band Gorguts (which I suppose means Gorguts is only half Canadian now). After being focused on other projects for the past four years, do these guys still know how to hold the listener’s attention? The true test of an instrumental album is whether or not it remains interesting sans vocals.
That has never been an issue for Dysrhythmia, and it isn’t on The Veil of Control. The title track is also the lead song here and gets things off to a rather odd, blast beat-ish start. Don’t be alarmed: this isn’t going to be a technical progressive black metal instrumental album. While the blast beat rears its head in a couple of songs, it’s more a hint of the guys’ other work in Gorguts and Krallice (Marston is one prolific dude) than a sign of things to come. “The Veil of Control” is a frenetic opener, even without the blast beats, and pretty much fits the band’s name perfectly, with shifting rhythms, abnormal pacing, off-kilter guitar and bass lines, and all-around progressive goodness that borders on wank but never devolves into a self-absorbed noodle-fest.
“Internal_Eternal” opens with a classic King Crimson guitar line, hypnotizing us for a full minute before the band really kicks in with some jazzy improv. One can hear the post-metal similarity to Russian Circles by the midpoint here, with a less technical, more flowing variation on the guitar line, backed by a conventional chord progression and relatively sparse drum fills. I say relatively because Jeff Eber is a monster on the drums, and can make the listener dizzy with his fills. That’s two standout tracks to open things, but Dysrhythmia peters out a bit over the next few cuts. “Black Memory,” “Selective Abstraction,” and “Severed and Whole” are all solid songs that do hold our attention, but they don’t leave us panting for more at the end; rather, we say to ourselves “nice one,” and wait for the next song.
Dysrhythmia keeps The Veil of Control short and sweet. The album is 36 minutes and comprised of six songs, most of which are short (around five minutes) by the genre’s standards. Closing track “When Whens End” is the longest song, but still under nine minutes and certainly one of the strongest tracks on the album, with fantastic jazz riffing and chaotic drumming occasionally interrupted by hard stops that will test the strength of your subwoofer. It’s the band’s most technically challenging song on the album, and along with “Internal_Eternal” is the one I find myself revisiting most often to get a handle on the intricacies. The DR11 rating should lend itself to this endeavor but the organic production does not, instead giving the songs a claustrophobic feel which is most noticeable through headphones. A more expansive mix/master would have benefited this recording.
The Veil of Control is another really good release from a band that has become synonymous with quality instrumental prog. The lack of spaciousness in the production (Hufnagel plays the entire album with a twelve-string guitar, but that fact can be lost on us) and that a few of the songs are merely very good versus great keep this album from reaching the higher echelons of the Four out of Five review grade tier. The Veil of Control is still a very worthy release, both in Dysrhythmia’s catalog and for prog metal fans in general, and deserves our attention.