SOPHIST is a Black Metal and Grindcore band from Edmonton, Alberta in Canada. They are named after the word sophistry, which is the use of clever but false arguments with the intention to deceive. The duo is comprised of Michael Sparks (Bass, Guitar) andDavis Hay (Programming, Vocals). Founded in 2019, the act have one previous release Betrothal to the Stone: Conception of Mephisto that accrued mostly favourable reviews. However due to the size of their following, you may not have encountered them so please allow me to recommend it and to say that for a debut release it is a solid attempt. I particularly urge you to listen to the track A Captive of Saturn’s Scythe because, in my opinion, it’s great.
This release however, Dissolution, opens with Solve Et Coagula (which is Latin for dissolve and coagulate). It hits hard and fast in its opening moments with everything assaulting you with raw brutality. It readily becomes apparent that Hay is delivering something great with his vocal performance, which is not dissimilar to that of Dave Hunt from the band ANAAL NATHRAKH. Nearer the end of the track it slows slightly and becomes apparent that they are, in essence, taking apart something so that it can be rebuilt.
If you are very, very impatient you might assume that Watching From Below is a dungeon synth track. It is largely typical of the album so far but the vocals remind me of a much more serious Devin Townsend. I’m not joking. There’s certain words that have just the right clarity and inflection to make me able to draw this comparison. It ends with a fade out as most tracks do but this one ends with a single cymbal hit and then three or four seconds of silence that spaces it the perfect distance from what occurs next.
When Hyperventilation Turns To Aspirationis the penultimate track on the album and much like the name somewhat implies, it feels a bit like a panic attack. The instrumentation circling around you in different directions, the bass left, the guitars right and the drums stopping and starting repeatedly is a bit musically confusing. Not in the way that would turn you off the song but more that it doesn’t really drive forward. It’s the musical equivalent of a circle pit, you can choose to stop and go stand at the side but that really won’t protect you from the spinning brutality within. It’s here that I wish to say that Sparks’ bass work is sublime, whilst not over complicated it is interesting to look out for and provides a notable counterbalance to the tidal wave of guitar.
Being a blend of Grindcore and Black metal, it would be hard to say to anyone that this is a release that they should pick up. Plenty of people can deal with one but not the other and a combination of the two often leaves people feeling as though it is not for them. For me though I consider this to be a great release and hope that SOPHIST continues pushing this direction.
Words: Jacob McCrone
Dissolution is out now.