Released: 2013, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
The debut album from Montreal's Dissension is a bit of a crazy-quilt mishmash of Children of Bodom-style power thrash, symphonic black metal a la Cradle Of Filth/Dimmu Borgir and deathcore that can't seem to figure out quite where it wants to go. It also boasts some of the tastiest, heaviest riffage – and lots of it - around, which ultimately saves the day for the quintet.
Indeed, no disrespect to keyboardist Andrew Proppe, but Dissension probably would have been better served here without any of his keyboard shenanigans given the might of the wall of guitar Nathan Afilalo and Matteo Conti unleash. They just get in the way of the gnashing, blazing riffs and beefy hooks, and almost always either sound out of place or like so much window dressing.
If Dissension would just stick to the full-on black metal of the title track throughout, that'd be one thing. But with the band already suffering something of an identity crisis as it is, it just confuses the issue more when there's a widdly-twiddly synth solo in the midst of the Winds of Plague-like mess “Legacy” or the thudding thrashcore of “Set To Kill.”
Dissension not only don't really gravitate to one specific style song to song, they often change things up in the middle, which isn't always such a bad thing. Their signature track “Dissention” has a Carpathian Forest-like chunky black metal front and back sandwiched around a punching bag midsection where Afilalo and Conti throw one awesome Pantera-like haymaker hook after another. More huge hooks in “Blacksteel” and “Brutality” turn bland power metal ditties into something much more ominous and intriguing.
“Thralls To The Crucified” and “Graceless Death” set Afilalo's distinctly black metal growl against a thrash/death accompaniment reminiscent of Sweden's The Crown – though, again, with synths/pianos/etc. buzzing about like busy little bees. Here, too, it's the guitar fusillade to the rescue, with their grit and grind matched with just enough catchiness to keep things somewhat focused.
And that pretty much sums up Of Time And Chronic Disease. There are moments of greatness surrounded by a lot of “what the hell's going on here?” But those great moments, most often courtesy of the Afilalo and Conti axe attack, are truly exceptional and most often well worth the confusion.