Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Paimonia - Disease Named Humanity

Paimonia’s “Disease Named Humanity” is a 2013 album that combines black metal dissonance to a Dissection styled approach to the genre. The crispness of the production and overall quality makes Naglfar a more likely comparison however, as the band suffers from problems of monotony and sterility. While the first song starts off fairly strong with a style of songwriting that is reminiscent of Mayhem’s “Chimera,” the album then immediately degrades fairly evenly with each track and by the last track the album commands no attention.

Homogeneous, samey riffs are a common problem on “Disease Named Humanity” and the major reason for this that the two-man band loses its drive by getting hung up on its own dissonance. A lot of minor second and diminished chords are interjected into more standard tremolo picking and arpeggiated chords.You’ll note that in the first track, low and high notes are quickly shuffled back and forth to create an effective pummeling that is really engaging because these two threads weave together. As the album passes along this becomes less true and the songs maintain this pattern but start sounding like the directionless buzzing of bees hovering around their disturbed nest. The guitars are more focused on dextrously dancing up and down their necks than creating songs, which makes the release very much a guitar player’s project - just one that isn’t laden with guitar solos or named after its author.

Much of the album has the disorienting feel that you get with diminished and dissonant melodies, but too much of that disorientation stems from a lack of songwriting focus. The album has some good moments and nothing on it is truly bad other than a few clumsy attempts at cheap variation. The problem is that the unfocused blur doesn’t leave any lasting impression as each riff starts to feel interchangeable, like hearing commentary on routine sports plays. Some higher chord is arpeggiated then some low notes shift before we hear a high part again, then cue tremolo riff and so on. While secondary to the guitar, the vocals echo this problem. While they could have been used to bring cohesion and direction to messy and directionless song structures they fall into their own narrow formula and never command much attention while the rest of the instrumentation commands even less. With the vocals, the issue is one that is all too common of a problem in death metal more so than black metal - very narrow melodic range and delivery. These elements are stifled by the same precise vocal approach that allows for some clarity and power while sacrificing the sense of energy. Think of a less awful version of latter-day Ihsahn mixed with standard modern melodic black metal vocals.

Classical guitar, awkward violin, and a massively directionless outro do nothing to resolve the album’s lack of focus and only serve to highlight the band’s lack of variation and direction. The instrumental outro in particular is completely unnecessary and so poorly integrated with the ideas from earlier in the album that it is hard to get through. The penultimate song, “Funeral Of Decaying World” already had a clear conclusion, so “Opus VII” comes across as padding and more guitar player unbuttoned-shirt-solo-project stuff. Thankfully, directionlessness isn’t the worst problem a band can have, especially when the band is clearly capable of good songwriting like we have some examples of here. This album is fine to listen to, just nothing that you’d routinely seek out. Recently, I had a slice of pizza. I like pizza, and that slice was good, but I won’t remember it a year from now. “Disease Named Humanity” is that slice, adequate, consumable, but devoid of a lasting sense of identity in a world filled with countless slices of melodic dissonant black pizz— I mean metal.

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