Give it up to German-based act Dioramic for breaking the trend of naming their post-hardcore/mathcore band with a three-or-four word phrase. Although I’m not entirely sure how the arty name they’ve chosen fits their sound ― perhaps a reference to the shifting perspective and composition you get from viewing a diorama from multiple angles? In any case, these guys can definitely play, even if the sound they’ve created is no longer fresh or original.

Opener “Ghosts in the Machine” lunges in with a sound you’ve heard all too often over the past five years and beyond. Stuttery mathcore chopped up with slow, shimmering moments of brightness, and deathcore vocals — tortured angsty screams and broooootal burbling growls — trading off with clean, emo croons and spoken word. Pretty much everything from the traditional post-hardcore playbook. The pacing and chord progressions kind of remind me of Muse playing a much more muted version of Protest the Hero, but the odd song structure — here one minute, a few twists and turns and then it’s gone — fails to really make an impression.

A bunch of the following tracks kind of float by in that same untethered fashion. They draw attention here and there with the nimble ornamentation laid over muted chug-a-chug, or the dreamy fluidity that recalls a few of the druggier moments on Faith No More’s final two albums or Cave In‘s still-seminal release Jupiter, but like most post-hardcore, nothing really took hold for me. Lots of decent ideas but no real effort or sense of how to stitch it all together into a galvanizing whole. “The Antagonist” comes close in its final minutes, with its intertwining melodies building up to a rousing crescendo, and vocalist Arkadi Zaslavski’s vocals attaining a genuine sense of catharsis.

And then, after the album’s midpoint, a pair of noteworthy tracks: “Lost in Error” and “Lukewarm Remains.” “Error” gets my nod simply for sticking to the plan for awhile, letting its busy, coiling groove and thrashy rhythms actually establish a connection, so that by the time a dissonant clean section warbles in, it feels well-earned. “Lukewarm” pairs a softer, chiming intro with those dreamy, emo taffy-pull vocals and the two complement each other quite well, And when the song glides into an even more languid core – all shimmering chords, jazzy drums and neo-classical prog noodling – it feels like a cohesive experience. That may be counter to the genre’s brain salad surgery aesthetic, but I’m a firm believer that you can have challenging, dynamic and mutative songwriting, but still craft a sensible composition at the same time. Probably why I don’t pay much attention to most of this genre.

Dioramic formed in 2002 and it’s taken them until now to pull together their first release, so that’s a huge accomplishment in and of itself. And I suspect that if they grew up listening to choppy, warbling post-hardcore, it’s no surprise that that’s the genre they’d most want to write and play. Yet despite the unmistakable talent here, there’s too much that’s no longer original. Technicolor mostly fails to elevate or improve upon a wandering compositional style that, depending on your taste, is either a core tenet of the genre or just ADD laziness.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
April 12th, 2010


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