Harmonic Dissonance

by Jason Hoffman Harmonic Dissonance
My spoon must be too big, or maybe I’ve finally crossed over into the realm of crotchety old fart, but I could find almost no enjoyment out of listening to Harmonic Dissonance, the debut album by band-about-town nu-metal mavens Descended.

Tim Bushong engineered the album, so I expected that, true to his usual self, at least it would have a great sound, but the guitars sounded uncharacteristically flaccid, and the bass was almost invisible (possibly explained by a liner note that reveals the bassist only recently started learning the instrument). The drums, however, were spot on, and in listening to the album even a non-drummer like myself cannot escape the fact that this guy is leaps ahead of the rest of the band. The performances of the songs are, for the most part, uninspired (except the drums, which always kick major bew-tocks), and the songwriting follows a predictable formula of a quiet, moody intro of clean guitars playing arpeggio chords before introducing heavy distortion and a slow riff. I mean no disrespect if this is your thing (or your band), but such predictable meat by-products fail to reset the blinking “12:00” on my VCR.

This is not to say that there is nothing of worth on the album. “Lies” is especially passionate, with the vocalist screaming “you lied!“ over and over in the standard death-metal roar, and the line “I’m just thrown away” in “Discarded Innocence,” sung with world-weary bleakness, is quite poignant. Almost as much as the drummer can drum, the vocalist can sing, such as the final track where unique two-part harmonies make for a nice change. But at other times, such as “Life=Deceit,” he makes these strange noises that literally sound like he’s chucking up his spleen or possibly a remake of famous scenes from Evil Dead.

So now I’ve done the unthinkable - I’ve ripped a local band a new one. I’ll surely get fired or have my house pelted with regurgitated legumes. So be it. If these 11 tracks had been boiled down to a four-song E.P., with each song being given a proctological exam and subsequent polishing, this could have been a much more intense album. That’s what crotchety grandpa Hoffman says, and grandpa’s a good killer, so he must be right.

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