Album Review: Dissimulator – Lower Form Resistance

Album Review: Dissimulator - Lower Form Resistance
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Dissimulator. You might have encountered the name at some point across the last few weeks on varying social media. Formed in 2021 out of Quebec, Canada, the band prior to this release only have the one other Demo released in the same year, but now three years on the band are rearing to unleash their debut studio album: Lower Form Resistance. Being picked up by a record label for your first album is always a victory but getting picked up by 20 Buck Spin, their reputation as a stellar label fully known, must have been ecstatic for the burgeoning Dissimulator. It’s half the reason I picked this up initially as 20 Buck Spin have this eye for quality that other labels aren’t attuned with. Therefore, let’s peel back the layers of this record and discern what Dissimulator can offer us come their January 26th release window:

There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Dissimilator’s record and it’s no more apparent than in how the songwriting throws itself at us. The band are evidently a technical death metal act but even then, simply limiting the band’s style to just a small term would do them an injustice. What I took away pretty quickly, and early on, was how Dissimulator’s songwriting isn’t massively overflowing with elements or material that could overwhelm us. When you listen to the band play it’s mercifully humble; the band are throwing everything they can muster at us but it’s not like they’re throwing anything unnecessary at us that would otherwise mar the performance they themselves can produce. Tech death can sometimes run the risk of being so bloated the essence of their sound becomes lost in the whirlwind; Dissimulator do not fall into that trap, keeping their warped soundscape down to earth. Sure, the band harness this Voivod style of playing where they’re not afraid to push things out further than other acts would try doing, but you never feel like you’re losing sight of where the band are going nor where you are.

If anything, I’d argue Dissimulator champion the very essence of what makes tech death the incredible force it is these days; the technical element is implemented to enhance the overall death metal, not the other way round. The band clearly harness their technicality in a way that doesn’t interfere or attempt to usurp the main goal of the band’s songwriting: straightforward death metal, otherwise injected by a number of places with a technical edge. By infusing their sound with the technical element to within the main riffs and track structure, it helps their technicality feel less a tacked-on feature to show off, and more vital to the overarching presence Dissimulator ooze. While the band play, their focus is still on providing quality death metal though, in this instance, it’s as if the band are looking to play in italics, such is the slanted and cerebral nature of their sound.

Album Review: Dissimulator - Lower Form Resistance

While we become attuned with the oddity their songwriting harnesses, they still managed to take me by surprise with how inventive their riffs can get. There’s a good thirty seconds to the opening of “Outer Phase” where the crux of their riff is this sweeping, cyclical reverb that comes and goes enough times without growing tiresome and yet it’s not featured as a throwaway gimmick, it’s a dedicated, planned aspect of the band’s performance. There aren’t too many conventional sounding riffs throughout this album and yet it’s amazing to see how Dissimulator have managed to make their weird tracks feel as routine as any typical 4/4 structure. As a result, when the band do venture into longer runtimes, the scope of what’s barrelling down on you is far from immense since you’ll grow accustomed to the vast unpredictability Dissimulator are thoroughly at home with. You’ll think you’ve got their trajectory down before they throw a complete spanner into the works and suddenly you’re off somewhere else. Yet, since their playing is so confident you’ll be totally fine in whatever place you find yourself in.

I think this is one of the few technical-infused death metal acts that really let their drums breathe. We’ve touched upon how their production is more stripped back, and is much more streamlined so we’re not as sonically battered at all times, but by doing so it’s enabled the drumming, the manic and taut force it is, to come across to us with zero difficulty. In addition, since the band’s soundscape is less cluttered the drums’ resonance, when struck, feels more satisfying because there’s next to nothing inhibiting the strength they’re able to impart. But we mustn’t think the drums are constant blast beat barrages because they’re really not; a band of this nature will of course utilise blast beats and they’re some really satisfying pieces at that, but thinking that’s all to offer would discredit the more straightforward patterns the band give us. Some of my favourite drumming moments occurred when the intensity was mellowed out and the band were taking their time. It’s great to note that the drums don’t have to be at breakneck speed for our attention to be fully fixated on them.

In conclusion, Lower Form Resistance is an album that’s going to raise eyebrows. There’s been a lot of chatter and marketing around social media and when a record does the rounds I often want to check it out; this is one instance whereby the hype is justified. Dissimulator have absolutely exploded onto the scene and will more than likely attract a lot of attention when this record releases January 26th. Sci-fi death metal is nothing new, but it’s the first time I can recall a cyberpunk-infused death metal record. In many ways it’s the natural evolution of what bands like Voivod began decades ago, yet Dissimulator are fervently their own established force for, should this record play whilst I were out and about, I could immediately identify the band playing. It’s been a long time since a band had such a prominent and specific sound to call their own, but it’s not founded on out and out aggression either. Much of their songwriting is more relaxed than you’d immediately think and Lower Form Resistance never comes across as an endurance test. It’s a joy to experience this album and I’m thrilled to have had my opportunity to check it out. Going from your first Demo to studio album is a big deal but Dissimulator are demonstrating they already possess the prowess needed to take the next step. A wondrously warped and wicked album.

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