Let's get one thing out on the table right now. If you consider yourself a fan of true death metal -- you know, the thrash and doom inspired, rotten, festering sounds of decay and decrepitude produced by bands like Autopsy, Bolt Thrower and Asphyx back in the late '80/early '90s -- then you can skip this review. Instead, go directly to Profound Lore's website and order a copy of "Towards the Megalith." Do not pass go or collect $200. This is a mandatory release for you. If, however, you are new to the genre, or need a bit more convincing, let me help you out. Disma consists of members of another true death metal act, Funebrarum, and is fronted by the legendary Craig Pillard of Incantation fame. If you don't know Incantation, then you have some legwork to do. But, for the sake of brevity, I will assume that everyone reading this has heard and instantly loved "Onward to Golgotha."
To digress, this is possibly the best death metal album of 2011, rivaled only by Exhumed's "All Guts, No Glory." Comparing these bands is akin to the whole "apples and oranges" cliche. Whereas the latter basks in Amott-era Caracss worship, Disma takes the listener on a more atavistic ride into the sludgy, hideous roots of death metal. On this release, the band invokes the grim specter of Autopsy with crystal-clear production. And, let's face it, the result of this unholy alchemy of drums, bass, guitars, and Craig Fuckin' Pillard on the microphone is massive. Heavier than a Mack truck hauling a trailer full of sumo wrestlers. "Towards the Megalith" is one of those metal albums that has to be taken in as a whole; the totality of effect here is where the band's strength lies. And, with song after ugly song of down-tuned riffs and death/doom pacing punctuated by upbeat, thrashy grooves, the entire album bludgeons the listener repeatedly until there is no choice left but to replay the enitre collection of tracks in a masochistic fit of "true death" obsession. It's eminently listenable.
Disma has managed to produce a death metal masterpiece that is, at once, addictive, atmospheric, catchy-as-hell, and just plain brutal. As much as I hate the oft-abused descriptor "brutal", it actually defines the atmospheric sound of "Towards the Megalith" correctly and accurately. This is not the so-called "brutal death metal" of 300 BPM drumming and fretboard wankery. And yes, I'm looking at you, Brain Drill and Necrophagist. None of that shit here. You can rest assured that Disma puts the "death" back in death metal. This is something that great Cthulhu might listen to while chilling out in the murky halls of R'lyeh, waiting to arise from the sea and conquer the planet. Again, slow, brutal, and ugly.
The album features stunning artwork, and comes in a six panel digipack. I would have preferred an jewelcase release, but all is forgiven as the packaging is jaw-dropping. It will take you back to the days when you could faith-grab a death metal album by the sheer aesthetics of the cover alone. And, as always, the real treat comes when you slip the CD into your stereo and press "Play."
"Towards the Megalith" puts off that vibe of old-school rot and corruption. It is absolutely essential. Buy or Die.
Highlights: Chasm of Oceanus, Lost in the Burial Fog, Spectral Domination
Recommended for fans of: Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Asphyx, Incantation, Funebrarum, Purtenance, Demigod, Convulse, Grave, etc.