Diskord – Degenerations Review

Lovable Norwegian oddballs Diskord make their long awaited return with Degenerations, their third LP and first recorded output since 2014’s mind-bending Oscillations EP. Easily one of my most anticipated albums of 2021, long ago I fell hard for Diskord’s strange amalgam of old school death metal, experimental flair, and ability to crank out killer death tunes, chopped up with psychedelic and prog experiments. My first exposure was on their monumental 2012 LP Dystopics, an incredible album I consider a modern classic. However, as the years passed I began to wonder whether we would hear more from the band. Well the moment has arrived, Diskord fittingly popping up on the Transcending Obscurity roster to land another mindboggling clusterfuck of weird arse death.

Degenerations largely picks up where Diskord left us in 2014. Yet Degenerations is certainly its own mutated beast, throwing the death metal rule book out the window. Following an ominous build-up, opener “Loitering in the Portal” sets the tone of the album from the outset, cramming ridiculous amounts of riffs, tempo change-ups, and unorthodox ideas into a damaging tune defined by rabid urgency and caffeinated bursts of thrashy energy. Diskord get pretty fucking wild at points, especially during Degenerations final third, skewering convention in increasingly strange and wonky ways, highlighted by the maniacal jerkiness of “Atoms Decay,” and the spacey jams of exhilarating psych-death odyssey, “Gnashing.” Loosely more conventional early highlights, “Bionic Tomb Eternal” and “Abnegations,” feature Diskord playing to their strengths, the thrashier outbursts recalling the kind of raw, technical precision of early Pestilence, embellished with typical Diskord weirdness.

Although there is much to digest, thankfully Diskord keep the meandering to a minimum, sculpting punchier songs to unleash their myriad of trippy, occasionally doom-tinged, old school death ditties. No song cracks the five minute barrier, which is a blessing in the grand scheme of things. While shit gets pretty damn chaotic and crazy at times, with conventional songwriting not on the agenda, Diskord wisely break up the mayhem in fun ways. Be it through trippy detours down kaleidoscopic hallways and forbidden wormholes, such as the bonkers “Dragged For Coronation,” or the experimental soundscapes and deviations of the aptly titled “Clawing at the Fabric of Space.” Elsewhere, Diskord demonstrate their penchant for sick, twisted grooves erupting through the maelstrom, offering head-bang worthy, infectious slices of respite from the dizzying technicality and drop-on-a-dime tempo shifts. Musically, the trio are in top form, and the addition of synths, theremin and cello adds extra dimensions to the rich tapestry. Dmitry’s guitar work, perfectly complimented by the thick prominent bass lines, is all over the place in a scattershot but truly exciting performance. Boundless riffs are crammed in, while brain melting solos occasionally rip through and add welcome melodic flair.

I would argue Diskord are slightly less impenetrable than other artsy, disso and experimental death exponents, such as Ad Nauseam and Pyrrhon, but make no mistake, this is a very challenging listen that won’t be for all tastes. The choppy, hyperactive energy and structural oddities can make for an exhausting listen. Degenerations is not likely going to be a go-to album for all occasions when I am seeking a death fix. However, once deeply involved, Degenerations proves an addicting, intricately layered, and wonderfully quirky endeavor of experimental death, blazing its own innovative path. Complaints are fairly minimal. Production is refreshingly dynamic, clear and punchy, every instrument clearly heard through a mostly balanced mix, although the vocals are a little too buried. The perseverance required to reap the full rewards and the initial elusiveness of the album’s hooks may prove deal breakers for some. Due to the intensity and density of the material, even at a relatively lean 41 minutes, some minor shaving would have resulted in a slightly more palatable listen, though figuring out parts to chop would be a difficult task.

Degenerations is another inventively composed, densely layered, and enjoyably deranged opus from the talented trio. While the tolerance of some listeners may be tested through the wonky, unconventional structures and lack of traditionally catchy songs, I suggest sticking with Degenerations. Like Diskord’s previous slabs of distorted weirdness, Degenerations requires patience and repeat listens to unlock its charms and intricacies. Whether it tops Dystopics is up for debate, but after an initial working-in period, Diskord have again succeeded in warping my mind and living up to my high expectations.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Websites: diskordband.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/diskordnorway
Releases Worldwide: August 13th, 2021

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