Sunday 23 November 2014

Dioramic - Supra (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 12/09/2014
Label: Pelagic Records

‘Supra’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

1). Xibalba (5:05)
2). Carpets On The Walls (3:55)
3). The Calm Before (4:55)
4). The Storm (4:56)
5). Worth (6:17)
6). Big Pump (5:38)
7). Melancholia (3:01)
8). Logbook (5:19)
9). Vortex Reflex (3:32)


After the release of “Phase of Perplexity” in 2004 and “Technicolor” in 2010, which was produced by Kurt Ebelhäuser (Blackmail, Scumbucket), "Supra" is Dioramic's 3rd studio album.

The band’s songwriting has steadily evolved over the years, and "Supra" reflects - so far - the peak of this evolution: we are not exaggerating when we say it is a truly mind-blowing piece of heavy, intricate yet catchy music. Main songwriter Arkadi Zaslavski's talent has surprised friends, fans and journalists alike from the band's early days, when they won VISIONS magazine's "demo of the month" award.

In recent years, Dioramic have focused their activities on select support shows for bands like Meshuggah, Skindred, or Every Time I Die, as well as appearances at festivals like Highfield or Southside. The main reason why the band did not play out more was the enormous and rather time-consuming success of drummer Anton’s alter ego “Zedd”, who for understandable reasons could not keep up his commitment to Dioramic. That's why the band recently replaced him with Paul Seidel (War From A Harlot's Mouth), who also joined The Ocean a few months later.

The line-up issues explain the long creation phase of "Supra", which was already recorded in 2011, but could not be finished until end of 2013. Now it's done, and as we all know, haste makes waste!

"Supra" was recorded by Kurt Ebelhäuser at Tonstudio45, mixed by Moritz Enders at Tritonus and mastered by Robin Schmidt at 24-96 Studios

The Band:

Arkadi Zaslavski | Guitar, Vocals
Max Nicklas |
Bass, Vocals
Alex Mauch | Guitar, Vocals
Paul Seidel | Drums


Ten years on from their debut release ‘Phase of Perplexity’ and much has been made of the band’s evolving song writing capabilities in the build up to ‘Supra’, the supposed peak of their evolution. As a record in its own right, ignoring the expectancy that this record will usurp all previous offerings to be crowned king of them all, an array of superlative words could be bashed about with a giddy abandon. From the off, ‘Supra’ is an extremely diverse record, marrying seismic dynamics with illustrious serenity and thrashing riffs with groovy, unhinged freak-outs with an apparent ease.

While vocally, the genial, almost angelic sounds that wistfully emerge from Arkadi Zaslavski’s pipes make up the majority of the record’s plumage – something which will certainly be off putting for those in favour of a grittier holler – there is still plenty of dispersed aggression in amongst the feathers to contrast those tones. 

‘Xibalba’ is a magnificent opening track. Bursting from the seams with a djent-fashioned riff that segues beautifully into a verse baring comparisons to Muse, it twists every which way from here on out. Pigeon hole these guys, I dare you. The truth is, the more you study this band, the less linear they become. Across ‘Xibalba’s’ five minutes there are references to Cynic, Muse, Periphery, Metallica, Mastodon and so much more. It’s mind-boggling but so ingeniously crafted, so smoothly transitioned that you can’t help but be pulled along for the ride.  

‘The Calm Before’ has to be one of the most convincingly original compositions I’ve ever heard that wears its Muse influence as proudly as it does. It’s dark, brooding and ominous yet brilliantly alluring. ‘The Storm’ which follows boasts another groove infected riff, with sparse keyboards wrapping it all in a dream like atmosphere. As far as the vocals are concerned this is one of the heaviest on offer, with guitars meanwhile going from full fat chugs to manically all over the place runs when you least expect it.  

Elsewhere, ‘Worth’ provides perhaps the most commercially and accessibly potent song on the record. Rich in melody and emotion, it emphasises the band’s multiple-personality disorder. ‘Supra’ isn’t an easy record to define because of just how much these guys defy your expectations throughout. Just when you think you have a song sussed out, when you think you can see where they’re coming from, an ulterior motive rears its ugly head and has you scribbling out your notes like an uninspired novelist battling with a plot twist.

Signed to Pelagic Records, the brainchild of The Ocean’s Robin Staps, you expect this record to be comprised off the back of a towering ambition and delivered with a steely execution. Robin would have it no other way, surely? ‘Supra’ then, takes those expectations and smashes them against a brick wall, shattering them completely. Ambitious seems too soft a word to describe this multi-faceted animal, steel too weak a substance to describe its strength. Dioramic are unique band and this, you feel, is their defining moment.

Words: Phil Weller   

You can pick up a CD here and Vinyl here

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