Review Summary: All wank, no spank!
Wank is a word that can’t be said without referencing any technical aspects of metal or music in general. Let’s explore the word for a moment; a simple Google search reveals a number of various definitions and slang. In particular, the definition I’m going after relates to the British slang for masturbation. Upon following the word in this context (all filters set to “Off”) reveals a number of perverted pictures, testimonies of how last night went while home alone, case studies of “the dinosaurs are extinct because you touch yourself at night”, and finally guitar acrobatics (especially in the metal genre). So why when sifting through a mass of highly dysfunctional internet videos, jargon and jpegs does a guitarist performing a face-raping riff/ solo all of a sudden become tagged with “wank”? I mean, if you can perform guitar tricks like some of these instrumental bands and masturbate at the same time, props to you. Is it the form of self-indulgence and one’s ability to physically play at super-sonic speeds that you simply look like your masturbating on the spot? Truth be told, the term to me doesn’t make sense in the least and I challenge anybody to think of masturbating as a technical motion. If stroking your hand up and down was that hard to do, I wouldn’t even bother. So I ask this in conjunction with my rant above; is it really the right term to be using for someone with an excessive amount of talent on the guitar?
Test of Submission
is without a doubt a culmination of Dysrhythmia’s arsenal of talent amongst its three well known and respected musicians within the metal community (Colin Marston, Kevin Hufnagel, Jeff Eber). Upon listening to Dysrhythmia’s fifth album and even contemplating the word “wank” within their fine instrumentation would yield that listener an inexperienced tool or someone who needs to go back to learning the English language. Either way, the three band members have come a long way since their breakthrough album Barriers and Passages
on Relapse Records that was graceful in the jazz/ prog/ ambitious “instrumetal” but lacked the chops to create heavily pinned-down standards that make songs “true” songs in the very sense of the word. Psychic Maps
was a bit of a let-down for fans of the band in that it was still travelling a little off-course and not quite reaching its full potential. I’ve said this many times in the past and I fully believe that record labels can either make a band stronger or pull the rug out from under anything creative the band was onto. Signing with Profound Lore Records was the best place this band could have gone and it damn well shows in how Dysrhythmia have matured since their last outing.
With that said, Test of Submission
is what this band has been onto for a while now. The songwriting and flow of the songs are much more spanned out into sections that complete one another instead of grafting ideas together in a haphazard manner. Yes, some of you dolts might call this wank but its actual song-writing while incorporating all of the explorative nooks and crannies Dysrhythmia are already stellar at accomplishing. Right off the bat “In Secrecy” sets this standard into motion, utilizing a dizzying array of technical chops and polyrhythm’s that flow in and out of a dynamical song-structure. For all the things I love most about tech-metal, it’s the repeatable listens that are crucial in the understanding of what-the-*** is going on. And when I say repeated listens are needed for this monster, I mean it. Take for example the self-titled track and you tell me you caught all that was happening in one go. It’s amazing how many wonderful ideas are crammed into one song and not enough praise can be said for how far these guys have pushed themselves as musicians. If a bit of variation in song feel is what you need, the album does break about half-way through with “Running Towards the End” that could have been written by one of the instrumental bands plaguing Prosthetic Records artist catalogue, except this has more girth to its balls and less of the requisite ambience that is drivelled out through mediocre bands such as Animal as Leaders. Paying attention to the production for a second, each song benefits from a crisp perfection that gives the guitar, bass, and drums an ability to show off their own qualities without sounding like a jumbled mess.
And there you have it; all wank, no spank. An instrumental metal album that is all about the bravado of song-writing without the self-indulgence and little in the way of mindless noodling (that’s a much better word to use than wank). In turn, wank was, is, and always will be a silly way to describe talent on the instruments considering all of us guys touch our pee-pees without even knowing it (scratching, checking to see if it’s still attached) and we all know this takes no brains to do whatsoever. Having the ability to play in the same vein as Dysrhythmia is another story indeed and I challenge you once again to a masturbation/ noodling contest.