Review Summary: Disconnection Imminent is an excellent album worthy of the name it carries.
The story of D.C. based post-hardcore outfit Decahedron is one many people can sympathize with, especially those who are in the centre of their youthful days as musicians. I’m sure a fair amount of musicians, regardless of their upbringing, all started playing music merely as an activity that seemed fun and was used as a tool to suppress the boredom they faced in their ordinary lives. This boredom was a feeling that undoubtedly overwhelmed the members of Frodus once they became defunct as a group in 1999 and the members (regardless of what they may claim) surely longed for the band’s re-union. Thus, after this untimely demise, drummer Jason Hamacher and Frodus’ lead singer/mastermind Shelby Cinca, felt the void of Frodus and set off to create a sound that was new, but still akin to the sound Frodus established in their heyday. Slowly this side project between friends transcended into something that was meaningful, and with the addition of Fugazi’s bassist, Joe Lally, things seemed to be in place. Also, ever so slowly, this ‘fun’ activity to suppress boredom turned into a real band; sound familiar?
Both Joe Lally and Shelby Cinca descended from bands that were more than content with venting out their frustrations of politics (Frodus and Fugazi respectively) and this is reflected into “Disconnection Imminent”. With a title like “Disconnection Imminent” it is apparent that this political vitriol is a prevalent aspect of what makes Decahedron stunning and excellent as a band, when not being stacked against its looming predecessors. The band puts their agenda upfront more forcefully than many bands before them. As a rule of thumb, so to speak, the criticisms towards the government presented are open to interpretation; but those who are aware of political spectrums and satire will be familiar with the inherent suggestions like, “A half -wit was his henchman/ Whose limbs thought for themselves/ Building casket after casket/ Lining warehouse shelves."
These politically charged ideas even leak through the cracks of the band’s sound, evidenced in the use of mega phones in many of the songs. “Delete False Culture” attacks the listener immediately both sonically and lyrically with its snapping guitar riff, crunching bass and an energetic rat-a-tat-tat rhythm. One distinguishable characteristic that is found in Decahedron is the band’s streamlined approach to their sound; confirming the sound to a level of polish that exceeds the pigeonholed confines of ‘spazzcore’ and surpasses what is expected. Much of the music, from the guitar tone, to the smooth and rumbling bass lines, is tightly placed in a niche where the band doesn’t take steps into territory relative to any pre-conceived genres. An example of a more streamlined punk sound is evident in the strangely catchy “No Carrier”, where Cinca yelps with surprising clarity; making sure the lines he spews resonate in the minds of the listeners. This accompanied with strange glitch/censored vocals, the message Disconnection Imminent
hits straight home.
When looked at as a cohesive singular album, “Disconnection Imminent” seems two-faced in its execution. The album seems to be neatly divided into two distinguishable types of songs; blistering and precise punk and dissonant and languid pieces stretching to 5 minutes. This inflicts a dual effect on the album’s success. The transition between the aforementioned dissonant pieces and the rapid punk seems awkward at times but the longer and more thought out songs add an extra element to Decahedron’s music. This makes the group more than distinguishable and adds a different facet to the band’s sound; whether it is melodic or atmospheric. Furious songs like “Lt. Col. Questions Himself” exhibit Cinca’s guitar virtuoso beginning with a spastic and jerky riff that soon leads into a visceral vocal performance as Cinca beckons us to “Do what you are told”. Cinca tends to deliver his lyrics with ragged shouts, but also exhibits impressive control over his screams; akin to a mental patient who screams not in pain but in question. The stupidity of the Iraq war and the unpermissible War on Terror is the subject on hand on “Not These Homes” providing some food for thought in lines like “The sky shivers/ Not this time/ Not these homes/ A hundred buildings fall for two that once stood tall."
Decahedron is also one of the rare bands that maintains an entertaining balancing act in both the territory of languid relaxation and frantic urgency, and these songs help diversify the album a lot more. The dark and discordant instrumental “Dislocations” floats through passages of liquid guitar and creaking doors. “Every City is a Prison”’s (yet another stab at the culture we live in) slithering melodies hover over a dark cloud of atmosphere. “Pay No Mind” coats Lally’s rhythm over slow and creeping tribal drums reminiscent of Frodus’“Belgian Congos”; and “Burning Lights” accompanies a quirky jazz bass line that gives it a light underbelly. A pleasant surprise is to be found on the beautifully organic “Endings” which features jangly guitars that evoke feelings of warmth and purity underneath Cinca’s muffled vox.
But with this diverse sound Decahedron creates, it seems that they ran out of ways to keep things interesting on a full LP and “Disconnection Imminent” finds its downfall in its use of filler; “Module 1” is a cacophonous piece that serves no purpose but to show us that Decahedron is fascinated with feedback. But even with that, “Disconnection Imminent” is a stunning album by names that might be familiar to fans of post-hardcore, and even if the band isn’t exactly ten sided, sans a few faces missing; “Disconnection Imminent” is an excellent album worthy of the name it carries.