Devcord is a progressive death metal project from Austria, founded by composer and multi-instrumentalist Peter Royburger. September 1st, 2018 brought the release of a debut album Dysthymia.
Many of Devcord‘s songs here enter incredibly melodic acoustic passages and give the listener a break from the huge metal riffs that pound eardrums. Royburger screams intense, powerful metal growls and still shows his ability to sing clean, beautiful vocals when needed.
As far as the death metal section of the Devcord formula goes, the riffing is original, powerful, and tight. Often, the bass will follow the guitar riff if it isn’t a chordal riff. Lead guitar parts harmonize and create an extremely evil and dissonant aura about them. The harmonizations are mixed much better and often sit on top of the guitar riff, not heard unless the listener tries to find them. Typically, Devcord allows the riff to be heard by itself for a few repetitions with the lead guitar soloing before Royburger enters with his powerful metal growling. When it is time for a full out guitar solo, he lets all hell break loose. He covers the entire fretboard and plays tastefully. Unlike so many metal guitarists, Royburger knows how to make an enjoyable solo rather than playing as many notes as possible within 3 seconds. They usually extend the color tones (3rd, 7th, 9th, etc) of the chords and create jazzy melodies, or as close to a jazzy melody that a death metal band can get.
The melodic acoustic side of Devcord is in some ways better than their metal sound. The guitar patterns, again, are the instrumental theme, but the bass often creates a hidden countermelody with the guitar. Peter sings beautifully, and if Devcord produced an album entirely made of these dark, brooding acoustic passages, he would never be expected to be able to scream, let alone scream well. His tone is dark, warm, and round, like the perfect euphonium. The chord progressions are often dissonant and dark.
Putting these two formulas together creates a full, epic release that sets the stage for the follow up and breakthrough album. Each song on Dysthymia comes with a new energy and aura about them. Song formats never follow anything typical, and listening for the first time is often mind-blowing because of the unexpected climaxes, transitions, and virtuosity in every second of the album.
Dysthymia has a potential to put Devcord in the direction of becoming one of the greatest metal projects in the coming years. My recommendation would be to treat the album as a single unit, under which circumstances it plays best, although individual songs can be satisfying. Each time I listen there is something new to discover — all in all, a story worth rereading.