Listening to Dispirit is not fun. Their brand of black metal is not created with fist pumping or head banging in mind. Just look at their name – that’s what their music sounds like. Depressing, soul crushing, and definitely heavy. Dispirit is definitely in the cold and grim camp, but theirs is an urban form of black metal forged in San Francisco fog, not the “Funeral Fog” of Norway.
Their “Rehearsal at Oberoten” demo, released earlier this year, features two meandering tracks clocking it at just over 30 minutes. There’s a lot of tension and release here, with the first track, “Ixtab’s Lure,” starting at a slow and pounding, almost doomish pace. Dynamics are key. Blast beats are used very sparingly, with the band preferring to drag you through the muck and mire rather than hurtle you through a whipping black storm. Vocals are kept back in the mix, a howl or chant coming though the churning guitars on occasion. Surprisingly melodic guitar solos crop up from time to time, a welcome treat when many bands in the genre are unwilling to use this technique.
Being a rehearsal recording, “Oberoten” is certainly raw and fuzzy, but in this context it doesn’t take anything away from the listening experience. It’s a step above a boombox recording but you would never mistake it for being cut in a professional studio. The rawness adds atmosphere, as it should for black metal.
I saw Dispirit open for Portal in San Francisco in May, shortly after this demo was released, and they were loud and tight with great stage presence. Dispirit is the kind of band that doesn’t need a flashy stage show, corpse paint, or bullet belts to impress an audience; their intricate, crushing and above all, emotional black metal is enough.
Photo by Taylor Keahley of Brooklyn Vegan