Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don’t get nearly enough love; stuff that’s essential listening that you’ve probably never heard of; stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for. This week, we have another Dis- band, although this time, they have nothing to do with Discharge – Disharmonic Orchestra and their debut, Expositionsprophylaxe (Nuclear Blast).
Spewed from the same Austrian cesspool as death metal provocateurs Pungent Stench, Disharmonic Orchestra were, for lack of a better term, really Goddamn weird. Maybe less so today, but back in the day, their refusal to abide by the delineated boundaries between death metal and grindcore set them well apart from their more straightforward contemporaries like Dismember or Entombed. Previous releases were a little too raw, and future releases would take the band name too literally, but they hit the sweet spot with their 1990 debut LP.
This toxic cocktail of extreme sounds was created by a trio of mutants with a really strange sense of humor, as evidenced by song titles like “Disappeared with Hermaphrodite Choirs.” In one of the zine interviews reproduced in the digipack of the 2000 reissue (which features no liner notes, no information on who played on or produced the record, no indication that it’s even a reissue – and it’s unclear whether that’s laziness on the part of the label, or a deliberate gag on the part of the band members), they describe their music as “flesh scorching, nonviolent Deathcore.” Obviously this is a very different beast than what we would consider deathcore these days, but that’s definitely not a bad thing.
Death metal filtered through a grind sensibility, the band unleashed short sharp shocks with a technical precision unusual for comparable acts. Not that that precision extends to anything else on Expositionsprophylaxe; the recording could charitably be described as “rough,” and that cover art is so bad as to be self-sabotaging. Still, they deliver what they promise, from the noise collage that starts things off, to the discordant Swedeath on “Sick Dishonourableness” to the epic showstopper “Disharmonisation.” There ain’t a whole lot more to it than that, 16 tracks of unpleasant, atonal orchestration (23 if you have the reissue, which includes their half of their split LP with Pungent Stench).
After this release failed to launch them into the big time, Disharmonic Orchestra went on to embrace the jazzier tech death sounds of Atheist. And that record wasn’t bad, but it didn’t quite have the same magic, and they broke up soon after. They’ve reunited a few times since, put out a few more records, but they still remain pretty unknown for guys who were doing stuff as crazy as they were as early as they were. But hey, if you want to hear deathcore that doesn’t have pig squeals and boring breakdowns, here’s your symphony.