I can't say I hear the city of Chicago mentioned in the list of progressive metal hotbeds, but clearly they have something to offer the genre in the band Dissona. The intriguing quartet approach the music through the prism of their backgrounds in classical and extreme metal with elements of jazz and other diverse sources.
From the get go, it's clear that this band has a different approach, seeming almost like new age or alternative prog metal if it's not too crazy to say. And that's not a bad thing at all; one of the biggest knocks against prog metal by those who are not fans is that "it all sounds the same, like Images and Words recycled again", so it's refreshing to hear a band in the genre that adds something to the mix. A big part of this sound is the use of guitar textures and ambient sounds as layering. Even the keyboards have an ethereal feel to themselves, as if floating in and out of existence.
Not that there's any lack of the genre's trademark pyrotechnics, as Craig Hamburger and Matt Motto (bass and guitars respectively) can lay a groove down as solid as you please. But the gothic flavor of David Dubenic's vocals lend a melancholia to the album that tempers the usually overwrought nature of proggy excess even as it screams over drummer Drew Goddard's moments of explosive brilliance as on Fire-Bellied. This isn't their first album, and I certainly hope it won't be their last. Especially when they come out with the inevitable progmetal staple, the full-blown concept album. Then again, that would be too predictable, wouldn't it? And Dissona ain't havin' it.
The Bottom Line: Dissona is the rare musical animal that combines several disparate genres into a cohesive whole that loses none what makes each unique while transmogrifying into something new and compelling. It's a juggling act that rarely works so well, and I will be following this interesting band.
- Genghis was tripping balls on this album at some point...