Album Review: Triptych by Dischordia

OKC technical dissodeath trio Dischordia masterfully executes its most ambitious concept to date with dense layers of composition, geometry, and existential horror

A message from the Make Oklahoma Weirder team: this article was originally written by Elecktra Stanislava in 2022 and is being released as part of MOW’s “VVeirder VVinter Vault” of 2023/24.

A triptych is a work of art divided into three sections. Usually this would refer to a piece of visual art. However, Dischordia has chosen to paint a masterpiece with technical dissodeath as its medium. Triptych, the band’s third full-length album, clocks in at just under an hour and is worth every minute as this intricate work unfurls its Brobdingnagian concept.

The album art by Gianna Martucci-Fink foreshadows the symbolism as yet to be revealed by the layered, hidden meanings. A watchful eye sheds tears. A carriage journeys on a precipitous path. Infernal hands burst menacingly, baring the way. 

Steeped in occult mysticism, the relevance of the number three holds many ties to divine, cosmic energy. Pythagoras placed significant value on this numeral, teaching that three was the first true number. Pythagoras himself pioneered mathematical experimentation in music, studying the length and tension of stringed instruments as well as how the varying lengths and diameters of wind instruments affected tone and harmony.

Dischordia further follows this rule of three throughout this nine-track album by dividing it into three suites or movements. Classically speaking, these movements all seemingly take a sonata form. Under this lens, the exposition, development, and finally recapitulation of both the sonic properties and the lyrical themes further unify the triadic concept. As Pythagoras himself believed, the triangle is the strongest form to support a structure.

Dischordia itself is a trio, comprised of Josh Turner on Bass, Flute, Vocals, Percussion, and Wrenches, Keeno on Guitars, Vocals, and Slam Ball, and Josh Fallin playing Drums, Guitar, Piano, and, of course, Filing Cabinet. Their unconventional instrumentation and willingness to explore avant-garde, out-of-the-box techniques has been honed over years of work together.

“Minds of Dust” launches this dissident voyage with a burst of speed. This exposition is a hopeless lament of the limited understanding of humanity’s insignificance in the grand universal design. The underlying theme unites this album’s fractal nature; it looks upon human existence as merely dust – insignificant, brutal, a small speck lost to the infinite “swirling through chaos you cannot comprehend.”

“Bodies of Ash” leads to one of the most spectacular breakdowns of the entire album. Driving bass, guitar, and drum synchronically break down to a hauntingly ominous piano, as suspenseful as any long-dead, great composer would write. While tense, rhythmic plucking ticks count ever-quickening existential fear of mortal expiration, Turner’s airy, beautiful flue solo lightens the heart.

“Spirits of Dirt” builds upon the foundation of the former pieces within this first triptych movement. Although these earthly-themed tracks minimize humanity in the grand scheme of the chaotic cosmic spiral, this movement’s allusions to a greater knowledge beyond comprehension have the cohesion that makes this album so aethereal while being so grounded and mundane as flesh. This song is a soundtrack to the descending katabasis of ashes and dust.

In the next movement, the greater esoteric meaning of the symbolism of the trinity is broken down into “The Wheel”, “The Whip”, and “The Carriage”. Whether the thematic locomotion, the means, or the ends, this movement feels driven by an unnatural hand. It is a troika in every sense – the sledge or carriage, a panel of judges who wield swift and pontifical power, or the members of Dischordia themselves, who are a considerable committee of three. 

“The Wheel” is often a symbol not only of motion but also of finding the stoic, stagnant center. While the rim may wildly spin, the hub remains motionless as calamity unfurls around it. It is hard to decide exactly whether the band refers to the steering wheel, the one undercarriage, or both. Nonetheless, even with this vague metaphor, the song still paints a vivid picture of careening lamentation. “In its ghastly light, the truth is shown / There are no chains / We grip the wheel with our own broken hands / Cemented with our icy blood.” 

“The Whip” continues this dark lament of driving brute force and dehumanization. “Behold its terrible form / A perfect tool, a perfect weapon.” Beyond the imagined penance of self-flagellation and atonement, the whip is held in one’s own aching hand and realization dawns that this hand holds the wheel, cracks the whip, and drives the carriage. Limited to this earthly plane, this very existence on this immeasurable plane is insignificant. “Upon the wheel, beneath the wheel / They die like ants upon the path.”

“The Carriage” drives this recapitulation, unifying the wheel, whip, and ride like an unholy terror lurching through the cosmos. As all have a beginning, middle, and end, the journey returns full circle like the wheel gripped tightly, driven on by some hopeless insanity to which all existence strives for some semblance of immortality. 

The final movement is possibly the most technical composition that Dischordia has ever written. The deep-rooted jazz theory, methodically meandering bass lines, Keeno’s tranquil, perfectly-executed guitar solos, and Fallin’s tight percussive synchronization are anything but discord. The mindful, ever-watching eye of the “Panopticon” revisits themes of imprisonment and the hand that held the whip. However, now within the prison, the captives are held fast again, not by physical chains but by the mental chains of the ever-growing totalitarianism of the state. 

A panopticon is an architectural design made to streamline the prison industry by allowing a skeleton crew of wardens to operate the entire facility. Normally this is achieved by a circular building with a central glass tower wherein a single guard can see every cell on the outer walls. In the original designs of the panopticon, the jailers were to be watched by the public, but when put into practice, the unchecked power wielded by those jailers reached near-total oppression. The architect who designed this prison, Jeremy Bentham, was later widely criticized for his creation’s inhumane efficiency. In the modern age, society lives in a rather less fanciful technological panopticon.

“Purifying Flame” further explains this grand mystic blueprint. Within each triptych, the levels of metaphor fall away like the decomposition of flesh, becoming less and less figurative and more and more concrete.This movement’s triune feels more grandiose while hitting closer to home. As all of humanity descends into the probable last collapse of civilization, “We were born to die.”

The finale, the climax of Triptych, comes to a close with “La Petite Mort,” literally from the French, “the little death,” or more figuratively, the loss of consciousness, most often post-coitus. While the majority of this formidable trek has been focused on a large scale, this song begins to focus on a more selfish motive: the clemency sought by a soul for sins committed. Whether it be the sins of humanity as a whole is yet to be decided. The incarnate has reached both the depths of the underworld and the ethereal heavens and cosmos of the infinite spinning wheel of galaxies crushed into dust and mere matter.

Unearthly angelic harmonies reverberate. Often, in the final movement of the greatest symphonies, a fugal technique called the codetta is used to link the parts, serving as a relaxing transitional structure that bridges the exposition to the middle of the final episode. In this final recapitulation, the tension is relieved by the fading, boundless Enochian harmonies, blissful and triumphant. 

Triptych belongs in the hallowed halls of any true brutal technical death metal afficiendo’s home, and it only gets better with age and upon more listens.

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MOW's Chief Playlist Weirdo & Weird Wiener Enthusiast with over two decades in the Oklahoma music scene as a venue operator, sound technician, Rock Camp instructor, and multi-instrumental artist.

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