Tape Review: Dystopiate’s ‘Demo 2020’

Dystopiate

Demo 2020

(Not on Label)

Dystopiate’s Demo 2020 is a brutal five-song affair that chugs along like a freight train into ominous D-Beat terrain where ‘D’ could just as easily stand for darkness and dystopia as for the distortion the music embraces and revels in. A hardcore sub-genre originating in England in the early 80s, D-Beat still survives and thrives on its international cult-following, living on also in its influence on crust punk music and culture.

Politically outspoken agitators Discharge influenced much of what has later been described as grindcore, Bay Area Thrash, black metal and more. But the bands that remained most loyal to Discharge paid tribute in variations on the ‘D-beat’ drum rhythms that dominate their sound. Many bands paid homage in the names of their projects, like Japan’s Disclose, Sweden’s Disfear, and Boston crust anarchists Disrupt, although they may have just been talking about disrupting the grind of late-stage capitalism. Emerging out of nearby industrial city Waltham, Massachusetts, this tape is a Dystopiate for the disaffected masses.

All instrumentation and vocals come courtesy of Cody Maillett, the multi-instrumentalist behind Cryostasium, an artist whose varied discography of releases and projects dates back to demos and split EPs in the early 2000s. Crossing genre boundaries and creating walls of sound, Cryostasium’s brand of metal layered melodic bell arrangements and other ethereal flourishes over blast-beat pummeling, sinister bass lines, and tremolo-picked buzzsaw guitar. Vocaloids let out operatic cries over dissonant chords and palm-muted chugging.

The new self-titled Dystopiate demo makes an effective first impression with its cover art and tape design; the title is spelled out in dreamy, Sleepy white bubble-letters than hang like a cloud over a head put down in turmoil and distress. Track titles like “Abuse” and “Mental Decay” help fill out the portrait.

What stands out about this demo is that it’s not just a faithful and loving tribute to the English hardcore that inspired it, it has a sound of its own, with electronic drum machine establishing a cold and consistent cyber d-beat and hints of black metal, thrash, crust, and distorted harsh vocals that call to mind the megaphonic presence of industrial rock frontmen like Al Jourgensen and J.G. Thirlwell.

Clocking in at just under ten minutes, Demo 2020 propels itself with songs that rapidly build in intensity, piling layers of intense rhythm guitar punctuated by wailing leads. Riffs transition into each other with breakneck speed on “Mental Decay”, a track that builds up to a climactic rage by the one minute point. Leads and harmonies are more apparent on tracks like “Never Return” and the groove-laden “Resist”, which ends with a crash and sudden descent into sputtering feedback. This promising demo ends with a bang on “A Day In My Head”, the lead single released with an accompanying music video. Available in digital, tape, and vinyl format, this debut brings an urgent and unique blend of heavy styles in a short time, building anticipation for whatever comes next from Dystopiate.

 

Favorite tracks: “Mental Decay”, “Resist”

 

 

Rating:  Recommended

 

Dharnyk is a 90s alternative rock stan who recently awakened to the joy of modern music. He reviews underground artists from a growing variety of genres, and makes electronic music as Pink and Yellow.

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