Dysrhythmia - _Pretest_
(Relapse Records, 2003)
by: Jackie Smit (
The pointless guitar masturbation of virtuosos like Steve Vai and Marty Friedman has until now made me shudder at the very mention of the phrase "instrumental album". Despite always being technically sound, the majority of these records have failed across the board to compensate for their flashy antics with even the slightest redeeming flicker of entertainment. I therefore approached Dysrhythmia's Relapse debut with a predictable amount of prejudice and indeed kept a copy of the new Immolation close at hand to replace it on the sound system at a moment's notice. A strange thing happened, however: unlike the futile fretboard noodling I had been expecting, nay dreading, an infectious, exciting and hypnotizing lick wafted from the speakers after I had pushed the play button. While the track did retain some of the tiresome technical tomfoolery that plagues all instrumental albums, it also bore with it a strand of undeniable charm -- a melody that was at once refreshing and mesmerizing. I placed the jet-black Immolation disc inside its jewel case and waited for more. "My Relationship" followed -- a speedy, metallic jazz number I would almost expect to hear on a racing videogame. On the third track though, Dysrhythmia came into their own and suddenly the album had my full attention. You see, despite its lack of vocals and its sometimes overdone freeform approach, _Pretest_ actually contains many a moment of sheer breathtaking musical brilliance. While I'd happily pass on tracks like "Heat Sink", the ingenuity of a song like "Annihilation 2" is breathtaking. Taking the listener from a subtle, atmospheric soundscape to a full-on Dillinger Escape Plan-esque frenzy, Dysrhythmia's keen sense of dynamics and composition is the glue that binds every worthwhile second on this effort together, and inevitably makes it a surprisingly satisfying experience for those who see it through to the end. Dysrhythmia will probably never ascend above much more than a largely eccentric niche fanbase, but I doubt that they're all too concerned with this. _Pretest_ is about passion and belief in one's work. And if they can manage to convince a cynical fool like me, then who knows what they could do for you.
(article published 18/5/2003)
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