While Seattle has had a reputation for offering some of the best heavy music in the last 25 years, at times it has overshadowed the sounds that have come out of Portland. If you take a look at what Portland is currently offering, nothing more than a continuation of what has been a part of the city’s diverse music scene, you’ll see that Portland is now doing its share of overshadowing. Or if anything, it’s adding to the demonic powers of the Pacific Northwest as a whole, and Diesto are sprinkling their raunchy smelling salts with their brand new album High As The Sun (Seventh Rule).
The self-proclaimed “heaviest band in Portland” have been doing their sonic duty for much of the 00′s and enter the 10′s with a 6-song album that runs just under an hour in length. You may see the word “progressive” mentioned with the band, and that involves the group adding in different tempos, bass and guitar textures and effects in the song’s arrangements. They do get heavy in a Melvins sense, at times getting deep into the Kyuss nugget and every now and then you’ll hear double tracked vocal harmonies that may sound out of place, but let it gel into your mind. All you’ll need to hear is one extra guitar crunch or the drums smacking you as the cymbals create plodding doom, and those harmonies offer a contradictory lightness to the band’s gloomy and doomy sound.
The shortest song is the 6-minute title track, and as it is positioned around the center point, it allows the listener to shake off the syrupy glass drink the group want you to consume. It almost comes off like their “radio hit”, but not radio friendly. In other words, these guys have no problem in making their songs go anywhere between 8 to 10 minutes, so hearing a song like “High As The Sun” go for 6:43 almost serves as a pit stop for the next three songs, a half hour dive into Diesto’s deep journey into the unknown.
As the album hits “The Longest Day”, it will definitely feel like that but the melodic twin guitar solo changes the mood for a few seconds. The only part that slowed down the album just a bit were certain vocal sections that seem to drag on longer than I wanted, at least upon the first listen. After a second listen, I was aware what was coming and now I understand the song and why it was done that way a bit more. At one point I thought of Godflesh even though these guys are far from having their electronic distortion, but the sinister sound they were known for is captured here as well. Upon looking at their bio, it made a Godflesh reference so at least I’m not alone in hearing what I heard.
I enjoy hearing a band that gets promoted for being heavy, sludgy and stony, and yet they reveal influences that are unique to them, what gives them their sound. It could be Iron Maiden, it could be Southern rock, it could be Sleep for all I know, but in this case it’s Diesto, and you will not want to be interrupted when you’re locked in listening mood with these guys.