dissonance in designDissonance in Design

Sentient

01. The Gateway
02. Between Space And Time
03. Entwined In Æther
04. Terminus Pt 1: Purpose
05. Absolution
06. Terminus Pt 2: The Cleansing
07. Sentient

[11/01/13]
[Independent]

The explosion of progressive metal acts within the past few years has paved the way for a lot of super talented bands and provided them with a thriving scene in which to share their art. Between the Buried and Me are really the forefathers of this movement, and they have inspired a legion of followers who are extremely talented in their own right and, in some cases, have even spearheaded musical movements of their own, such as Scale the Summit, The Human Abstract, and The Faceless. Of course, as with any musical movement, over saturation of bands tends to lead to diminished quality of musical output, as we’ve seen happen to the metalcore movement and the deathcore movement after it. Weeding through the junk to find the gems can prove to be a somewhat difficult task. Thank goodness, then, for bands like Dissonance In Design, who display the finest elements of everything that makes progressive metal so exciting and what’s more, are actually worthy of the moniker “progressive”.

Hailing from the Mile High City in Colorado, Dissonance In Design are a progressive metal quintet who also inject a fair amount of technicality and melody into their complicated and dynamic compositions. Fellow Denver natives Vale of Pnath are a good reference point for those looking for a comparison, which is no surprise given that both Dissonance In Design and Vale of Pnath share two common members, vocalist Steve Boiser and guitarist Vance Valenzuela. However, whereas Vale of Pnath leans more towards the melodic death metal side of the spectrum, Dissonance In Design meshes perfectly with the aforementioned BTBAM-spearheaded scene, and their debut full-length, Sentient, is a welcome and worthy addition to this genre, and manages to reach even further past it, despite it’s shortcomings.

Sentient is a concept album, and while the c-word has earned a rather bad reputation in recent years,  this is one that is actually engaging and interesting. In case it’s not apparent by the Ken Sarafin penned artwork, who has also worked with The Zenith Passage,  Oceano, and Lorelei, the plot is straight out of a science fiction movie, which lends itself well to this style of metal. Scientists create a gateway into another dimension, and discover a world inhabited by mystical celestial beings. The scientists, of course, deem it necessary to capture and kill a creature and bring it back through gateway into our world for research and experimentation. Of course, after this, all hell breaks loose. The creatures gather at the gateway and spill into our world, and we discover that they survive by devouring the souls of their prey, which now happens to be humans. However, soon we discover that these beings are revered as gods in their dimension, and they actually purify the souls they feed on and send them back into the universe to find new hosts. In this sense, these creatures aren’t the terrifying monsters we believed them to be. It is an intense and thought-provoking narrative that, in one sense, can be construed as a commentary on the human condition.

Musically, Dissonance In Design stun and impress as they weave their way in and out of this narrative, providing a dynamic album that metal nerds will surely feast upon. Vance Valenzuela and second guitarist Harrison Patuto tastefully compliment one another with colorful harmonies, and the technical, sometimes classical-tinged guitar lines call to mind The Human Abstract’s Digital Veil if it were spliced with The Faceless’s Planetary Duality. They also create an impressive sense of atmosphere and space via softer, Scale the Summit-esque instrumental passages, as well as highlight some of the more intense moments of the narrative with heavier, breakdown-esque sections. It’s evident that bassist Nema Sobhani is a student of Evan Brewer, which is isn’t bad thing, as he adds color to each song with his groovy and jazzy basslines. The back line is covered by drummer Zac Patuto, who tastefully accents with drum flourishes and keeps the groove present, and Steve Boiser really shows off his versatility and range as a death metal vocalist, even more so than in Vale of Pnath.

As great of songwriters as Dissonance In Design are, it would have been nice to hear them experiment a little more with lighter passages and add even more dynamics to the music. Also, the melodies tend to blend together throughout the course of the album, and rob some of the songs of their own identity. In spite of these few and minor qualms, Sentient is a fantastic first LP for the band, and it should come as no surprise if Dissonance In Design end up opening for some of their influences and contemporaries as soon as next year. Their future is as bright and celestial as the beings they describe on Sentient.

Dissonance in Design – Sentient gets…

4/5

- AL