I was hunting around GetMetal’s experimental section for a new 2013 release to kick off the year in blogging reviews. I stumbled upon The Zygoma Disposal. I’d never heard of them before. I found a track of theirs on youtube and went immediately to buy the new album The Forgotten.
Here’s what I like about it. The first track could be found in a 1920’s jazz lounge. There are occasional times when the trumpet makes an appearance in the metal sections. I like that there is an effort at that bizarre fusion even though it is not at all a focus of the album.
I like how ridiculously talented the musicians are. The technical playing on here is as good as any technical band out there. Again, this kind of isn’t a focus of the album, so I’m not going to say that fans of tech metal will instantly love this or anything.
I like that they took some influences from djent, but didn’t make a djent album. It is cool to having some grooves in the middle of your technical mess of atonal music to sort of ground it. I wish more bands that like the djent thing took a page out of their book and were lightly influenced by it rather than making a whole album out of the idea.
Here’s what I love. The sound is fantastic. They have a sort of early 90’s grunge-esque low-fi sound. I’m totally in love with the level and sound of the distortion and the clean, dry sound of the drum kit that comes from not overproducing an album. I’m not sure if this is accidental due to budget issues or if it was an intentional choice, but despite loving Periphery the barrage of overproduced albums has been getting to me recently and this was a fantastic break in sound (think Iceburn circa Fireon).
I love the compositional ideas. The songs never go where you expect them to. There are times that we get something that sounds like it could be a Schoenberg 12 tone row. There are some influences from modern atonal composers for sure. The lack of tonality always goes right to the edge of reasonable, but never seems to cross it. There is always some sort of grounding that despite the unfamiliar sounds seems partially familiar. They pose the question: Is this a melody or a mess of nonsense?
Here’s what I didn’t like. They sort of try to do too much. Boy do they span the genres. They go from jazz to djent to death metal to grunge to doom to light atmospheric playing. I’ve praised bands that pull this off seamlessly, but in this case it seems a bit too disjointed and lacks the coherence I like from a well thought-out album.
One could make the argument that just like with pushing the envelope on tonality they are pushing the envelope on genre as well. Just because I don’t see the coherence doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. I’m just not advanced enough for it or something. Sure. I buy that, but I still didn’t like that aspect.
But all of these are minor points in comparison with my least favorite aspect. I know that hiring actually strings to play your string parts is quite expensive. It is much easier to substitute with synthesizer mimicking strings. I just hate this. There is nothing I find cornier to ruin a song than hearing those artificial string sounds. Still this was just one part of one song, so I’m over it.
All in all, this album is well worth getting. I give my first album review of 2013 an 8/10. Here’s a sample: