Dynahead’s latest release, Antigen is a curious release. At times the band focuses their intensity into pure progressive thrash – nothing terrible but quite similar to things we’ve heard before, almost as though Meshuggah and Dream Theater formed some unspeakable genetic hybrid with a touch of dissonant death metal soloing for good measure. But there are always individual moments within these songs that show tremendous promise, making Dynahead a band to keep tabs on in the near future. Of particular note is vocalist Caio Duarte; while at times he opts for the traditional, full-throated and harmonized clean vocalizations any thrash metal fan will be familiar with, there are moments of true dynamics within his performances. Duarte is a capable growler and singer, but his best moments are when he toes the line, his vocals starting from powerful melody and destabilizing into death growls within single lines. The album mix doesn’t always favor the bass but bassist Diego Teixeira is fully capable of driving rhythm as well as more complex and serpentine lines that occasionally show through. The twin guitar assault of Pablo Vilela and Diogo Mafra is impressively technical, sometimes to the point of being alienating – but occasionally you’ll hear some unique guitar effects and textures that help to propel the songs. Drumer Rafael Dantas is a blast to listen to, whether pulsing along at high speed or throwing in a few more eclectic fills to liven up the approach.
Let there be no mistake -this is an accomplished and polished record, filled with memorable performances that defy some of the loud/soft conventions of avant-garde metal established and emulated to death by bands like Opeth. But the avant-garde elements are fairly understated in most cases, causing one at first listen to mistake this for a more conventional prog-thrash combination that favors melodic and dissonant approaches in alternation – you’ve got your uptempo thrash as well as some tasteful keyboards, clean and acoustic guitar parts and vocal layering that spice up Dynahead’s sonic formula. But the album’s longer tracks allow the band to stretch out in a way that is quite intriguing. Clockwork I features one of Duarte’s most fluid vocal performances, while Depart Now features the band in a rare slow moment, conveying forboding and beauty with equal skill. Tactile Haven is bookended by some beautiful moments of sustained guitar harmonics and feedback before flowing into an unconventional chord progression, thrashing away for a few minutes before a jazzy instrumental section sweeps in, taking guitars, drums and keyboards in a tentative exploration of the tune’s harmonic progression. Hopefully the band will have a chance in the future to explore this side of their music, as with Antigen they’ve proven their capability to tweak the conventions of thrash and prog to their sonic focus in a way that is quite enjoyable, if often familiar.
01 – Clockwork I