Kraków’s DispersE made quite a name for themselves in 2013 with debut album Living Mirrors. The touted djent band made waves with their ebbing and flowing foray into progressive metal, combining soulful guitar licks with masterful jazz shuffles overlaid by catchy, playful grooves that dig their hooks into you and don’t relent.
Foreword is a more reserved approach to DispersE’s style of big progressive music. Where Living Mirrors was well in your face, keeping up with the exploding djent scene of the time, Foreword is taciturn in construction, understated in execution, and restrained in presentation, but more cohesive as a result.
Living Mirrors, while a phenomenal album in its own right and certainly an outstanding example of djent music, seemed to be riding the wave of whatever was popular in the early years of the decade. With Foreword, the band have channeled the more profound aspects of their first release and delicately built around whimsical ideas instead of going headfirst into another album rife with palm mutes.
Foreword is much further from Animals As Leaders and Periphery in sound, with the band now finding themselves closer to progressive greats in Frost* during their Milliontown days, even tiptoeing into the more recent Falling Satellites sound. Songs like “Tether” and “Does It Matter So Far?” are the epitome of what make Foreword so solid, with their airy, floating atmospheres giving you breadths to close your eyes and get lost in for just a moment—to escape the mundanity of mortality and really feel the music. There’s a particularly engaging moment at the very end of “Gabriel” with this quaint little riff that seems to disappear all too quickly, only to lead into a profound repose with “Kites” to end the album.
The cohesion of Foreword is something to levy against DispersE, however. Though the album is well-constructed and such a smooth, digestible listen, the band have perhaps taken too few risks. There are no serious hooks that will dig into your delicate flesh and wrench you in deeper during a listen. There are certainly plenty of opportunities in the clever segues between tempo changes, tasteful frequent and tasteful guitar licks, and the skillful drumming laying underneath, but DispersE have crafted a relaxed listening experience that is good—very good—but never finds an excuse to delve into greatness.
The first part of the album is somewhat misrepresentative of the majority, as songs like “Stay” and “Bubbles” offer insight into potentially huge things to come only to betray these notions with the aforementioned roads of reservation. This isn’t a bad thing, per se, but after the thick, djent nature of Living Mirrors as well as allusions to conceivable chunky riffs, the listener expects to be hit a little harder than what Foreword ends up offering, especially upon the first few listens.
Foreword is beyond competent. It’s progressive music done right and shows that DispersE weren’t just some one-off, errant djent band who came onto the scene with a superb album and were prepared to write the same trendy garbage for years to come. Foreword is beautiful, thoughtful, and downright impressive from front to back, but misses too many junctures to do something adventurous with the music and maybe marry a little of what made DispersE so interesting with Living Mirrors. If anything, the evolution from Disperse’s first album to their second sets an interesting precedent for an inevitable third album which, if they take the time to find themselves even further, will undoubtedly be jaw-dropping.
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DispersE’s Foreword is available now courtesy of Season of Mist and may be purchased via Bandcamp.