(Season of Mist)
Polish group DispersE have been a name to watch for a while now in the tech-metal community, but it’s always been a curious bit of interest. Their earlier albums had definite progressive elements, and guitarist Jakob Zytecki is tremendously talented, but the band had one foot in djent and one foot ready to move on. Thankfully, DispersE take two steps gleefully forward and away from their tech roots on the beautiful and playful Foreword. This is major key music, which is weird for a metal adjacent band (let alone one on the experimental label Season of Mist), but it works very well for the young group. The record is a joyous listening experience, with dalliances into modern pop, funk, and electronic music, making for the rare album with an equal number of hip-shaking moments and guitar solos.
Oh, and Jakob Zytecki sure delivers on this record. His post-djent funky shredding style is on great display throughout, though “Tether” and “Surrender” are clear choice cuts. The latter gets quite close to their tech metal roots at times, but it highlights how well the band have progressed into their own new style. Is progressive electronic funk pop a thing? Through the first two-thirds of the record, DispersE showcase how delightful their sound is. Unfortunately, things take a bit of a turn with the overlong “Does It Matter How Far?” (yes it does, apparently), and the four tunes that follow pale a little in comparison to the first six excellent tunes. The other issue of note is the mix, which is loud and attuned to electronic music. It makes for some awkward transitions and an uncomfortable listening experience at times (most notably “Bubbles”).
That said, despite a weak back end and some poor production choices, DispersE is really onto something pretty special here, and it’s a shame they couldn’t keep it together for a full album’s worth. The first six tracks would make a short record of the year candidate, and a dazzling display of how to make metal and prog happy and fun again. The whole record has a dream-like quality to it, and hopefully the band can keep the momentum going in future “dreams”. I hate when the good dreams are interrupted when I wake up in the middle of the night, and I can’t re-enter them. DispersE has to hope they can go Inception on record number four.