Lower Form Resistance
Review by Benjamin on February 7, 2024.
There are some artists that are lucky enough to be world-class operators within one sub-genre of metal. An even smaller subset of that group can stretch their talents across multiple sub-genres, without all of their bands simply converging on a similar sound, able to compartmentalise their output without compromising their vision. Dissimulator are the new band from Chthe’ilist and Atramentus members Antoine Daignault and Claude Leduc, the former of whom also played in Worm for a time. Impressively, they are the equal of these phenomenal acts, without sounding anything like them. Dissimulator’s chosen form of metal is a furious take on technical thrash – Vektor with the lysergic psychedelic edge replaced by a biomechanical concept - and their debut, Lower Form Resistance manages to achieve what many bands in the genre grapple with, but fail to master, creating music that is a catchy and memorable as it is warped, with the many, many spectacular riffs moving the body as well as the brain.
Without being exactly a throwback, Dissimulator unselfconsciously celebrate a form of metal that evokes serious nostalgia in anyone that bemoans the lack of weird progressive thrash and tech-death of the type that seemed to abound during a short stretch of the early 1990s. The way in which tracks such as ‘Automoil & Robotoil’, and the sensational title-track that closes the album combine chunky low-E chugging with dizzying flurries of fleet-fingered modal runs and stabs of jazzy dissonance cannot help but recall Voivod, Coroner and Atheist, all bands there were able to wrest a strange accessibility and warped melodic sensibility from music that could so easily become annoyingly impenetrable. Indeed, the most appealing aspect of Dissimulator’s debut is the way in way the bands technical flair at no point becomes the dominating element of their attack, with the visceral thrill and excitement of thrash sacrificed at the altar of self-indulgent experimentation. While the progressive technicality is at the heart of what Dissimulator do, rather than added as an adornment, the band’s ability to integrate this into exhilarating, rampaging metal compounds the effect, rather than detracts from it. It is quite the trick, and one that betrays the almost embarrassing levels of talent present in the Canadians’ ranks.
Highlights abound across a consistently magnificent album. The frenzied thrash of the brilliant ‘Neural Hack’ is the perfect opener, a whirlwind of Voivodian madness that accesses the sweet spot between heart and head, immediately generating the sense that Lower Form Resistance will be a special album indeed. This sense is heightened, when the processed clean vocals of ‘Warped’ float amorphously over the gloriously disjointed syncopation of the band’s riffage, what is surely a knowing tribute to Cynic’s "Focus", the listener delights in their mutual recognition of one of technical metal’s greatest bands, although the song itself moves far beyond mere pastiche. ‘Outer Phase’ again features the Cynic-style vocal sounds, but what really stands out here is a phenomenal drum track from Philippe Boucher – Dissimulator are a band that absolutely understand how changing the feel of the beat below the guitars can bring progression and development to the song – and Boucher’s punishing performance creates a compelling push-and-pull tension between the various musicians, as if each one is attempting to pull the music in their direction, only to be restrained by the others, the result being a kind of restless magic that commands the listener’s attention, and demands their fealty. Finally, the most jaw-dropping exhibition of the band’s ability to craft busy, but memorable, riffs is the incredible ‘Cybermorphism / Mainframe’, which adds a tremolo-ridden death metal intensity at times that is reminiscent of Chile’s Ripper, but also moves through classic Bay Area mosh riffs and discordant progressions littered with pinch harmonics, the whole thing underpinned by subtle keyboards that raise the spectre of Nocturnus in a way that very few bands do in 2024. An eight-minute epic that moves past at what feels like twice the speed, the track displaying the full breadth of Dissimulator’s immense capabilities, and hearts and minds explode in response. It would be disingenuous to suggest that Lower Form Resistance is groundbreaking – there is originality here, but one must accept that Dissimulator are operating just inside wide, but previously established boundaries. What they do offer though, is an almost flawless, and ingeniously addictive take on technical thrash, which breathes new life into a niche sub-genre, and immediately places the band within the exalted company that they clearly revere.
Rating: 9.3 out of 10475