With their first album Disconnection Imminent just under their belts, Decahedron have lived through enough drama for a veteran band. Originally performing and releasing their first EP under the name the Black Sea, the group was forced to change their name due to legal reasons. Then just after finishing recording their debut full-length, Fugazi bassist Joe Lally announced his departure from the group to spend more time with his family. Guitarist Shelby Cinca and drummer Jason Hamacher (who played together in Frodus) asked ex-Roadside Monument bassist Johnathon Ford to fill in, and now one band name change and one new bassist later, Decahedron is ready to take on the world.
Where their debut EP hinted at a ferocious ‘90s era Dischord sound (think Hoover) combined with the angular post-punk bands from the west coast (think Drive Like Jehu), Disconnection Imminent delivers and ups the ante on its predecessor. Unfortunately, the album isn’t consistently strong, and lyrically, it falters. Luckily for Decahedron there is enough here that those willing to get past the weaker tracks and unengaging lyrics will find much to like about Disconnection Imminent.
Right from the start, Decahedron grabs the listener by the throat and doesn’t let go. “Delete False Culture” without a doubt brings down the house live, and on CD it’s just as powerful. Led by buzzing, charged guitars, the track crackles with intensity, accentuated by Cinca’s jaw-dropping, powerful, visceral voice. No matter what the lyrics are, Cinca genuinely feels them and delivers them as if his life depended on it. “No Carrier” is equally catchy, riding on some nicely crafted guitar progressions. Drummer Jason Hamacher arms seem to be made of steel, because he thunders on his kit like a man possessed. “Not These Homes” and “Lt. Col. Questions Himself” are propelled by Hamacher’s inspired performances.
It’s too bad the other half of the CD can’t measure up in intensity the aforementioned tracks. The band unwisely includes two forgettable, inconsequential instrumental tracks. Journeys into slower, more mature tracks are equally unimaginative, leaving this listener wanting for the pace to pick up again with the more energetic songs.
With a political agenda clearly in mind, lyricist Cinca, paints a world where technology and city living has turned us to mindless automatons. Where Radiohead’s OK Computer addressed a similar issue, the paranoia and fear was projected inward, creating a personal sense of unease and wariness that was ultimately universal and beautifully bleak. Cinca lacks Yorke’s poetry, and the lyrics come across as didactic and somewhat shallow.
On “Every City Is a Prison” Cinca sings: “Society breeds/ Disconnection/ The youth can’t relate/ We call can’t relate/ Can’t relate to anyone in this foreign place/ Commodified/ Generalized/ Machinized/ Empty lives/ I don’t believe the lies.”
“No Carrier” finds Cinca lamenting: “It seems we’ve been disconnected/ As we come upon the world/ Calculate the fads/ Double up the fashion quo/ Is this what we were warned of/ By authors and thinkers past/ Only time will tell.”
Cinca’s politics are well intentioned if somewhat overly simplistic. The fears he voices regarding the technological revolution are the same that were voiced at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Instead of seriously questioning, the lyrics come across as those written by a Luddite railing against all these “new fangled gadgets”. Furthermore, by not investing himself personally into the narratives, the lyrics come across a belligerent argument rather than an informed opinion.
However, Decahedron have little to worry about, as most people don’t turn to music for their politics, but they do pay attention to the songs. Disconnection Imminent is in every way a “first album”. The things that make it work simply shine and the missteps are glaring. Decahedron have offered up an admirable first effort, but this will be an album they will build their sound on.