"Pretest" (Relapse; 2003)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Instrumental rock is fairly hard to come by these days. Most instrumental albums are made by guitar heroes or the occasional bassist or keyboardist who has a sufficient following to warrant the economics of a solo release. And most of those instrumental CDs are of the rock with jazz/fusion variety – that’s all well and good, but I always thought it would be nice sometime to hear a truly rock instrumental CD.

My prayers have been answered. Philadelphia’s Dysrhythmia is a power-trio that plays instrumental rock – and wouldn’t you know it they’re pretty damn good. Although I had just recently heard the track “Body Destroyed, Brain Intact” (from their independent release “No Interference”) on a sampler, I knew that Dysrhythmia had just signed to Relapse Records for the release of their latest CD “Pretest.” When “Pretest” became available I got it at my next trip to the olde town music store.

Dysrhytmia’s style is a cornucopia of genres and sounds – while the music has its basis in pure rock, the band is fully capable of incorporating any number of musical elements into their inventive approach. Dysrhytmia can rock out (“Bastard” and “Annihilation II”), dance around a hard riff (“My Relationship”), space out (“Annihilation I”), and can be playful (“Running Shoe Of Justice”). At all times Dysrhytmia fill the room with their complex, but not complicated, sound. I don’t think there is a lot of double-tracking or overdubs, but Dysrhythmia sure know how to fill up the sonic space with their spirited playing.

While most of the band’s songs are taut rockers, occasionally, Dysrhythmia sound like a jam band that has taken too many steroids. But that must be their dedication to their craft rather than some long lost love of jamming for the sake of jamming. Only one song could be considered epic (“Touch Benediction”) – and at 11 minutes the track seems to breeze by pretty quickly.

Usually, what you hear when Dysrhythmia is playing is a band that is probably too smart for the rest of us, but having fun in the only way they know how. But this doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyed by just anyone – I think Dysrhythmia have diverse appeal.

“Pretest” was produced by Steve Albini. Albini is known for his gritty production, but forgoes grit for a less abrasive yet deft touch on “Pretest” for the requisite amount of heaviness without making it unbearable.

Dysrhythmia is Kevin Hufnagel on guitars, Clayton Ignerson on bass, and Jeff Eber on drums.

For more information visit http://www.dysrhythmiaband.com. 

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 26 Sep 2022 12:18:28 -0400.