Guitarist/vocalist John Gossard has had success in both black and doom metal. His black metal band Weakling released only one album, “Dead as Dreams”, but to this day it stands as one of the high points in the history of American black metal. His funeral doom band Asunder never reached such heights, but did release two very good albums. Dispirit seems like the natural next step for Gossard; blackened doom metal. The first cut to emerge from Dispirit is the two track, thirty minute, “Rehearsal at Oboroten”. While the production is shoddy, the demo still reveals a band with haunting atmosphere and grandiose composition.
Dispirit play dark and haunting melodies that slowly crawl toward the listener, like a horrible demon in a nightmare from which one cannot awake. The melodies manage a tightrope walk between dissonant and melodious. The mixture recalls early Xasthur albums, where lullaby-like tunes are twisted into dark, demonic melodies. Single melodies are stretched out over long passages, allowing Gossard to explore inner workings of the melody through a series of sweeping leads and solos. The nightmarish melodies are accompanied by a variety of black metal howls (which also recall early Xasthur) and deep chants (similar to those found on Asunder albums). Both songs are well written, taking their time to play out all the dimensions of each passage before moving from one haunting melody to another. While the songs remain in slow to mid tempo throughout, there are enough shifts and buildups to keep the listener engaged throughout.
The weakness of the demo is the production, which is very gritty and muddy. On one hand, the grittiness of the production does help build the dark, dreamlike atmosphere Dispirit are going for. On the other hand, much of the musicianship—especially the bass and drums—is washed away and one really can’t hear what’s going on. Sometimes the melodies even get washed out (i.e. 2:00 to 3:40 in “Bitumen Amnii”). While Dispirit are not a band in need of crystal clear production, a little more balance in the mix would make all the details of the performance shine brighter. Of course, this is a demo, so poor production is not exactly a surprise.
Dispirit are certainly a band to look forward to in the future. They have discovered a great formula—thin, black metal lead guitar backed by a thick, doomy rhythm section, creating a deep atmosphere and a disquieting presence. Considering that the blackened doom sub-genre has thus far mostly produced busts, there is certainly a place in the currant metal landscape for Dispirit. I am eagerly looking forward to hearing what they sound like with cleaner production and over the length of an entire album. In the meantime, “Rehearsal at Oboroten” is a tasty appetizer that will hold fans over.