Review: Discorporate – That Which Is Not

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Discorporate That Which Is Not album

This is not…this is not…this is not…

Discorporate, a Texas-based one man black metal project of French-born musician Chris Menta, is a downright surprise and in my book is one of the triumphs of the upcoming fall season. Produced by JT Longoria (King Diamond, Izzy Stradlin, Volbeat, Cradle of Filth), Menta has his debut studio album That Which is Not set to release September 7th 2023, on his own label Adharma Records. Black metal, more so than any other genre, seems to be safeguarded by its artists and fans, and Discorporate seemingly try and challenge the conventions of the genre in some really interesting ways. While all the markings of the typical blackened release are present, there are progressive and modern elements here that really expand the sound and make it stand apart from a lot of the releases this year. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who are fans of tracks that have a good balance of melody, instrumentation, and atmosphere, there’s a lot to love here. In all honesty, this makes black metal a bit more palatable for new listeners while still retaining its challenging and multilayered aesthetic.

Chris Menta, independent musician and composer, is the sole contributor of the record and uses his experience from a lifetime of appreciating music and several bands he’s been a part of through the years to craft a fully-realized and unique debut. JT Longoria’s production brings a similar energy and scope of his previous projects here and elevates Menta’s ambitions to another level. Aside from Menta, the other musical contribution is given by drummer David Sikora (Krigsgrav), who brings in elements that can be expected when listening to the low end of black metal but still hides a few tricks up his sleeve that often caught me off guard.

There’s an instant hook with opener “Andhera Aagaman” that enraptures the listener. The guitar grows and builds up as the rest of the album explodes to life. The furious explosive drumming properly sets a brilliant tone for the rest of the record. “Cosmic Fugitive” stands out amongst the track list and contemporaries as instantly unique. It takes the crunchy nostalgic sounds of classic black metal and supercharges it into a modern context. There’s so much nuance to the production and guitar playing here; coupled with the atmosphere and presentation of it all, it’s an immense standout. Meanwhile, “Baptized In Sulphur” displays some of the best rhythms and textures on the entire project. Between its furious drumming and cranked, bouncy bass, it’s impossible not to get lost in the affair. A great continuation from the last track integrating an even more ferocious vocal inflections, so far this record has been all killer, no filler.

“I To I” kicks off with a very classic sounding black metal riff. An accompanying pounding underlayment of percussion and a beautiful dissonant bass tone bring this track into another realm. Getting lost in the maelstrom of this track is a majesty everyone should experience. It’s a blissful journey into the frozen subconscious of the human psyche and a ferocious blistering trial by fire punctuated by a fantastic guitar solo and jam packed with a lot of distinct movements. “Tandava” has this all conquering,  overpowering groove. It’s impossible not to headbang to this one Headbanging. It’s an all around banger with a great melodic and comes equipped with razor sharp riffage. My one small gripe with this cut is the lyrics on this are a little one note but that’s a nitpick. With the brilliant symphonic backing, and truly chaotic last minute of the song it’s easy to overlook its minor shortcomings and revel in the absurdity.

“Stronghold Maleficum” has one of the most abrasive openings on the entire project. The bass work truly shines here. This is a trashy, sludgy journey that bobs and weaves with tempo changes. One second it’s sly and sneaking, the next it’s furious and unforgiving in its ferocity like an apex predator knowing the precise moment to go for the kill. This track would absolutely decimate live. Its downright disturbing last minute is something one can only describe as evil incarnate. “Tryambakam” picks up the torch and runs with it, making this cut another absolute ripper. The layering of the instruments works wonders on this track. Everything is crisp and decipherable without losing the compact nature of black metal. It’s one of the most overpowering numbers, with a monster of a solo with a vile rhythm section that is out for blood. The distinct sound pallets of black metal, thrash, and hardcore are blended beautifully here, creating a truly unholy cacophonous cocktail for the ears. The closing track “Legion Of I” is a distinct tonal shift. Returning to the more melodic approach of the middle section of the album. It feels like a fitting end, truly cathartic. The vocals sound like a dark eulogy. Its haunting atmosphere and tangible ambience make this one of the most well rounded tracks on the album. When you think the album is fading again, it strikes back one last time with a shot right between the eyes, and with the thunderous final strike of the drums, it’s over.

Discorporate punctuate their debut as one of the most thrilling releases from the underground metal scene this year. That Which is Not is a modern, easy to digest version of black metal that retains all of its integrity and intrigue of the genre but benefits from immaculate production, a dark atmosphere, and brilliantly constructed tracks that are both unique and don’t overstay their welcome. The record benefits not just from its tangible passion and evident love of the artform, but for its willingness to experiment and take risks. I applaud Menta and the rest of those who made this project possible. I eagerly anticipate what’s next…

Top Tracks: “Cosmic Fugitive”, “I To I”, & “Tryambakam”

That Which Is Not gets  4.5 flaming Toilets ov Hell out of 5

Disciorporate’s That Which Is Not is out on September 7th via Adharma Records.

 

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