Of all the different bay area metal bands (and fuck, how many are there?), Dispirit is certainly one of the most interesting. Not quite a continuation of Asunder or Weakling, Dispirit was started as a side project to exist simultaneously as Asunder, offering John Gossard and Co. an additional outlet of aggression. Buried in a morass of almost psychedelic effects with distant forest howls, Dispirit play a combination of Blackened/death/doom completely their own. After over a decade, this rehearsal tape is only Dispirit’s second offering (their first, from 2010, was also a rehearsal tape), and it captures the knife-wielding sonic intensity and nervous, evil ominous atmosphere Dispirit embodies.
The cassette opens with “All Paths End The Same”, which trudges deep into a melancholic tomb with emotive guitar before ripping off the doors in an animalistic fury. The guitar swirls and twists around what might be vocals. A marriage of horror and hopelessness that is deeply effective. No longer relying on distance and opaqueness to convey mass terror, the sound is closer and with undercurrents of drones, achieves an atmosphere. The recording quality is an improvement over their previous offering Rehearsal at Oboroten, but still not by any stretch of the imagination “clear”. It ends up working to Dispirit’s advantage. This cassette is supposed to take you somewhere. It’s supposed to make you feel how to art looks; trapped, dimly lit, covered in vines. “Beneath The Waves” acts as somewhat of an outro and interlude to the previous song with little to no vocals. Just a cold slow decent, which rears its tenacity in the final minutes. There’s almost a shoegaze element towards the end of this track, which was as jarring as it was interesting and reveals Dispirit’s experimental nature.
The Drinker is the real juggernaut, and not just due to it’s 19 minute length. It opens with distant battlefield drums and guitars that roil in depressive atmospheres. There is very nearly a Neurosis feel as the opening section trudges around a hammer smash of swirling textural disconnected misery, like a lion stalking the cage. The songs second act almost seems to tread into Bolt Thrower territory of classic Death Metal before draining once again into almost complete doom territory. It stands alone, while there are elements on the whole cassette similar, The Drinker really is 1 of 1 and the full force display of Dispirit’s might. Where as Rehearsal at Oboroten blistered by at bewildering speeds 111112 takes it’s time, churning out a tableau of the over all grim emotion and feeling, skirting outright terror and destruction in favor of something a little more complex.
That is until you reach the hidden track and Slayer cover Maelstorm, then it’s full on Mad Max style aggression. Straight ahead, vicious, no bullshit. Listening to the whole cassette top to bottom and this being the last track is unexpected, (especially because it isn’t as obviously a Slayer song as say “Raining Blood” or “Angel Of Death”) but it’s such a well executed cover that while it may not coincide with the over all mood, it really doesn’t matter.
111112 marks a growth and change of form for Dispirit,a shift from a pure thin abyss to a dark and endless expanse. The mystical textures, moods of fear and anxiety, and recording quality are more thought out, more intentional. While John Gossard seems to have quite a legacy to live up to, 111112 will not disappoint any of his fans and will likely draw in a new crowd. Dispirit continue to be one of the more interesting American Black Metal bands in existence. Hopefully we can get a full length from them soon.