Q&A: Dissentience Combine Classic and New Influences on “Mask of Pretense”

It’s probably impossible to kill thrash metal. The genre has continued to morph and change over time, moving from the likes of Megadeth and Slayer to re-thrashers like Warbringer to the wild crossover of Power Trip and their ilk. And then there’s Dissentience. The young thrashers hail from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, home of a small but kick-ass extreme music scene, and should quickly ascend through the ranks if we’re judging based on musical quality.

Their debut EP, Mask of Pretense, is relentless, technical and melodic, displaying shades of Slayer, Power Trip, Revocation and even Death; Dissentience tap into the essence of classic thrash and death metal without creating a carbon copy of the albums that influenced them. Decibel acquired an exclusive stream of Mask of Pretense and spoke with the band, which you can read below. Mask of Pretense is out independently tomorrow.

 Mask of Pretense definitely sounds influenced by old-school death/thrash. How do you avoid sounding dated when you write songs?
We never really take sounding dated into consideration when we write because we’re always trying to push the boundaries of our music further, not backward. A trap that I see a lot of bands falling into is trying to rehash the same riffs and sounds that bands were doing 20 or 30 years ago, and while a lot of those bands are great, it feels like metal’s been stuck in a nostalgia rut for a while that we need to get out of. We’re all definitely fans of old school thrash and death metal, but we also listen to such a wide range of other music (metal or otherwise) that it’s impossible for us to pigeon-hole ourselves into one genre when writing.

What was the writing and recording process for Mask of Pretense like? Did it happen quickly?
The writing process for Mask of Pretense started about 4 or 5 years ago when Nick [Scherden, drums] joined the band and it was slow and steady. Due to everyone in the band being physically apart for most of the writing due to school and work, we ended up sending a lot of home-recorded demos back and forth, tweaking the songs until we thought they were up to snuff, and then took them into preproduction with Corey Pierce and Nick Kashmanian, which is where they really started to come together. A year later, we headed into Trax East Studios for about a week to record with Eric Rachel and Corey, which was such an awesome experience for us. We really wanted to keep the same intensity as we have at our live shows, so we tried to go for a more raw and bare bones approach which ended up sounding killer.

Were there specific lyrics or themes you focused on?
We didn’t have any specific themes in mind during the writing process, but I definitely think all of the lyrics on the EP are meant to make people start taking a deeper look at themselves. There’s so much atrocity going on in the world that sometimes people forget to deal with the monsters in their head or in their own home, and I think a lot of these lyrics deal with that. Everyone puts on a mask and separates themselves from the real world at one time or another, but the mask has to come off eventually and what’s underneath isn’t always pretty.

Once you release Mask of Pretense, what happens next?
Once the EP is out, we plan on playing in front of as many crowds as we can to get our music out there. There’s some talk of touring by the end of the year, but nothing is set in stone yet. The writing process for our first full-length album has already started and we’re hoping to get in the studio next year to lay everything down. Until then, keep an eye on our social media pages for more updates and check out Mask of Pretense, streaming everywhere on October 26!