DISHARMONIC ORCHESTRA — Not to Be Undimensional Conscious (review)

DISHARMONIC ORCHESTRA — Not to Be Undimensional Conscious album cover Album · 1992 · Technical Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Vim Fuego
Disharmonic Orchestra is not your average death metal band. For a start, the band has only three members. They are also fond of a bit of experimentation, usually frowned upon in such a restrictive genre. `Not To Be Undimensional Conscious' is not your average death metal album either.

Unusual samples of a ringing telephone, and some hard to distinguish sounds, jazzy, almost funk-style bass, blasts, dysrhythmic percussive patterns, and Patrick Klopf's unique death grunt all feature, and that's just in the first moments of the opening track. From the song titles, it should be plain to see the lyrics are not the usual death metal staples of gore and violence. Emotion, love, dreams and philosophy seem to be the focus.

The most unusual part of Disharmonic Orchestra's sound is that the drums are the lead instrument. In death metal, the rhythm guitar generally holds the main riff of the song, and bass, drums and vocals all hang off it. Not here. Drummer Martin Messner is lord and master of this album, rejecting traditional straight forward death metal drumming in favour of off the wall beats, twisted fills, and jazz drum patterns, without ever missing a beat or losing any impact. The death metal staples of blast beats and double kick drumming are still there, but aren't the dominant features of Messner's unique style. Imagine a heavier, slightly less frenetic version of Atheist and you won't be far off the mark.

Bassist Herwig Zamernik is the heaviest funk bass player you'll ever hear. His instrument still has dirty death metal distortion, but he slaps, plucks, and generally dances up and down the fretboard with skill and dexterity hardly seen in any form of metal. Occasionally, the bass sounds high in the mix, but the bottom end is never neglected. "Addicting Seas With Missing Pleasure" starts with a slap bass riff, using death metal tunings, which is odd yet striking.

With so much happening in the rhythm section, the guitars don't need to do much. Most of the riffs are simplistic, but heavy. The uncompromisingly heavy guitar sound is very close to that of fellow Austrian psychos Pungent Stench. It is not until fourth track "The Return Of The Living Beat" that the guitar dictates proceedings. There's a funky breakdown, with rapped clean vocals, but true to form, the sound is still pure death.

There is a huge experimental, progressive influence on this album. The moody, spaced out, mostly instrumental "Timeframe" spins a simple, repetitive bass melody through the song, accompanied by piano and acoustic guitar, which rips into a short metal passage, before returning to the drifting beauty of the main theme of the song. It is too subtle for the average Cannibal Corpse fan, but would also be too scary for Dream Theater listeners.

This is extreme art rock without the pretension. Sure, it's death metal, but it's so much more. If you can find `Not To Be Undimensional Conscious', approach it without any preconceptions, and you'll be rewarded.
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