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Dysrhythmia – “Internal/Eternal”

New York’s Dysrhythmia sit at the intersection of some important threads in the metal world. The most obvious set involves the band’s personnel. This is the chief songwriting outlet for guitarist Kevin Hufnagel, in collaboration with virtuoso drummer Jeff Eber; the band added bassist Colin Marston to the fold in 2004. Hufnagel and Marston are two of contemporary metal’s finest and most prolific creative voices, and their work together in Dysrhythmia led directly to their current lofty stations as half of progressive death metal overlords Gorguts. These guys seem to release something noteworthy every other month, and 2016 has been no exception. The new Gorguts record is a worldbeater; Hufnagel’s released a stellar solo EP and will likely get another LP credit with adventurous trad-metallers Sabbath Assembly before the year is out; Marston’s scored hits with new efforts with Krallice and his own solo project Indricothere. A new Dysrhythmia album on top of this embarrassment of riches might feel gratuitous if Dysrhythmia weren’t just as essential as the rest of these projects.

Which brings us to another point of significance for Dysrhythmia: They’re basically ground zero for a lot of the instrumental progressive metal that’s appeared since the turn of the millennium, and they’re still the best at it. The youthful energy their music exudes makes it easy to forget how long they’ve been around for, but Hufnagel and Eber have been at it for almost two decades. That kind of longevity breeds craftsmanship, and Dysrhythmia are true masters of their form.

It’s been quite some time since the appearance of 2012’s Test Of Submission, Dysrhythmia’s sixth album – understandably, given how busy these fellows keep themselves. Their time away from the project has paid dividends. Test Of Submission was Dysrhythmia’s best album to date when it came out, but this year’s The Veil Of Control may even top it, which is pretty much unheard of for a band so deep into their career. “Internal/Eternal,” its first single, makes a good pocket pitch for the band’s considerable overall charms. Driven by a relentlessly looping bass motif that Philip Glass might’ve written after misreading the label on a bottle of iced coffee concentrate, the song offers all of the fiddly technical delights you’d expect from this group of musicians. But the “music” bit comes way before “technical” or even “metal” in terms of relevance here. Hufnagel’s most identifiable trait as a player isn’t chops or intensity, but a uniquely wistful harmonic sensibility that endures no matter how dense the shred gets. That lovely feature of his playing is on full display here, even when his rhythm section drives the pulse up a froth at the tune’s conclusion. Listen.

The Veil Of Control will be out 9/23 via Profound Lore.