Tome I

I’ve been feeling a bit… contemplative, lately.

Join the club, right? We’re all finding ourselves in a world that just sorta… isn’t the one we knew it to be. And all this time in quarantine has given everyone time to really think about their lives. Are you happy with the way that it’s going? Are you putting enough focus on the things that really matter?

This kind of introspection, however forced it may be, can lead one in a myriad of directions. Far be it from me (or anyone, for that matter) to claim any one right way to deal with the kind of situation we find ourselves in. As for me? This whole ordeal has brought me to two conclusions:

  • Whatever the outcome – do the best you can at whatever it is you need to do. Work, hobbies, taking care of family, whatever it is, it’s worth your best effort. At least then whatever happens, if you fall short, you know you did everything you could.
  • If it makes you happy (without harming anyone else), then just fucking do it. Make the time to work whatever it is into your life as much as possible.

Make. Yourself. Happy.

I mention all of this, because on Tome: I, Chicago’s Dismalimerence have created something that can only come from artists relentlessly abiding by those same principals, and the result makes for a killer debut that’s both widely appealing and inevitably polarizing in the same effort.

The band casts a helluva wide net on their debut effort, grabbing influences ranging everywhere from progressive black metal acts like Ne Obliviscaris and Enslaved, to the modern blackgaze sounds of Ghost Bath or Violet Cold, even ranging into some progressive, jazzy core elements that bring Between the Buried and Me to mind. And it’s all pulled off in impressively cohesive fashion – epic tracks like the 12+ minute opener “Crimson Glow” or “Vale Armor” are able to take you on long, meandering journeys that aren’t afraid to take you in a myriad of directions, but never go so far out into left field that you feel lost or out-of-place. Even shorter tracks like “Sequestered Hearts” or “Pragma,” though perhaps slightly more focused, are hardly straightforward or lacking in creative exploration. And the band artfully weaves everything together with beautiful and emotionally charged little melodies and passages throughout the album that take you from one movement to the next, including some nice piano palate cleansers that prepare you for the next course.

But perhaps what I appreciate most about these guys is that they don’t half-ass any direction they decide to take the music. Oftentimes when bands try to incorporate such a wide range of influences, parts can end up feeling watered down and uninspired – but Dismalimerence delivers everything with plenty of gusto. You want some straight up, blasting black metal filth? The beginning of “My Only Love” has you covered. Want something a little more airy and upbeat? The Astronoid-ish “Negligence of the Forgotten” is what you’re looking for. And when they decide to throw a breakdown into the mix, they sure as shit don’t pussyfoot around there, either. Head 1:40 into the aforementioned “My Only Love” and find an absolute bruiser any Lorna Shore fan would be tickled by. It’s all delivered with a confidence and sincerity that speaks volumes to this band’s dedication to just doing whatever the fuck they want, and it’s brilliant.

I realize that when you start indulging in this many different musical influences, there are gonna be plenty of folks who just can’t bring themselves to enjoy it. If it’s a straight-forward, clearly-defined product you prefer, this may not be the one for you. For me, this was an extremely pleasant and welcome surprise to come across. The stars seem to have aligned to have this album come into my life while in the perfect frame of mind to take in and digest such a wandering and flowing effort, but I suspect that in any circumstance my takeaway would be the same. A great example of a band doing what they want, the way they want it, and getting a really good result from it. A very promising start for these guys.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
June 11th, 2020


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