Dystrophy - Wretched Host - (7.5/10)
Published on March 21, 2016
US technical death metal band Dystrophy have been at this for a while, appearing from New Brunswick with their first demo in 2008 less than a year after formation. Initially a progressive-minded thrash act, they’ve shifted to a tech/death basis with progressive influences ever since their first proper releases and now hereby present their second full-length from Selfmadegod Records after an initial self-release version earlier in the year.
For the most part this one offers pretty much standard-issue fare in the genre and manages to come off without any level of enthusiasm that’s quite unappealing. Structurally this is based around heavy-handed rhythms offering a perfect base for a series of twisted, complex rhythms with challenging patterns on display, all wrapped together with a progressive twist as the swirling rhythms make for some truly obscure arrangements at times, with “Nadir,” “Singularity” and “Exoparasite” delivering solidly enough on those counts. Given plenty of thump with the pounding drumming following the twisting arrangements gives this another strong progressive edge and truly makes the whole affair sound even more challenging and complex, even with this one generating a fair amount of thumping up-tempo efforts to come along that raise the energy level up significantly. This is mostly more prevalent in the second half with the like of the title track and “Demise” feeling a lot faster and more lively than the majority of the tracks before them.
The music is well-handled for the most part, with a blazing production that makes for some driving times here with the loud, thumping patterns and churning riff-work given plenty of room to weave and maneuver throughout the arrangements, yet there’s the underlying sense that despite all this there’s a decidedly lack of energy from the whole affair here as this one tends to merely plod along without really driving up the speed-driven rhythms. It can barely get itself up enough to really generate the kind of infectious energy that it can deliver with gusto during these faster, more frantic moments which makes the slower arrangements seem to stick out all the more. They really come more lifeless than expected, even with all the precise complex rhythm work accomplished throughout the tracks. More to the point, it’s really the first half where this sticks out the most as the second half is noticeably more lively and enjoyable, making it a bit of a work to get initially invested which tends to lower this one somewhat more than expected.
This is a case where the fact that the music itself is well-handled and initially enjoyable yet in spite of that tends to come off as less enjoyable than it really should be due to the sluggish tempos they’re all played at which causes this to feel much longer than it really is and leaving this one more for true die-hard progressive/technical death metal fans or devout followers of this particular style.