Many naysayers claim that there is nothing new under the extreme metal sun, that the genre has reached saturation. These people have clearly never heard Dystopia A.D., the two-man band from New Jersey blending progressive and technical death metal with unexpected elements from many other genres. Their second album, Rise of the Merciless, sees project mastermind Chris Whitby and lead guitarist Aki Shishido join forces to produce astounding results.
It takes skill to condense your style into a compact format, and opener “Red Sand” is exactly that – the proggy yet heavy riffs and prominent twisting bass lines provide a solid platform for both Whitby’s dazzling harsh and clean vocals and Shishido’s technical wizardry. Once this formula has been set, however, it’s far from business as usual – the remaining five songs showcase experimentation at its fullest. Shishido states: “Every track is uniquely atmospheric and dark and met the mood of life at war incredibly well.” The theme of war is not coincidental – he recorded his sections from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, where he was deployed as a Major in the U.S. Army, and the guitar work reflects the soul and introspection gained from his time there.
Whitby follows up: “There are some ambitious elements that you probably don’t expect to hear on a death metal album, but everything works well together and sounds cohesive.” Such tropes include saxophones, gorgeous acoustic guitars, choirs – all amid the melodic yet furious death metal chaos. “Each song is an adventure for the listener as we explore the themes of the occult, suffering, and insanity.” The lyrics certainly give a lot to chew over, and retain their power whether growled, shrieked, or cleanly sung.
“Rise of the Merciless” shows a band that can stand on their own two feet after the wide variety of guests on Designing Ruin, and create music that will appeal to both those familiar with progressive extreme metal and also draw in new listeners to the genre.
“Rise of the Merciless” will be released on July 31 2020.
Dystopia A.D. are:
Chris Whitby – vocals / guitar / bass
Aki Shishido – lead guitar
Read our review here.