REVIEW: Designer Disguise clean up nicely on the sophomoric “Surface” EP

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Designer Disguise - SurfaceTwo Years Gone

It’s been a little over two years since Seattle metalcore outfit Designer Disguise began their discography with the modest “Hearts & Minds” release. This year’s “Surface” EP introduces a slight emphasis on greater sonic experimentation all encased in a noticeable increase in production quality.

Clean First Impressions…

Through a tasteful fade-in and a use of passive atmospheric elements on opening track ‘Whisper’, the band demonstrates their growth through the introduction of glitchy vocal effects and better sound mixing, veering on what seems to be a slightly more pop sound. Quickly follows is a pulsating instrumental section that immediately constructs a groove that embodies both composure and maturity.  While some will have a greater appreciation for the raw edge that “Hearts & Minds” emanated, and thus potentially being deterred from the current focus, it would be a complete disservice not to acknowledge the band’s efforts placed on expansion and attention.

The instrumentals are mixed superbly, creating possibly one of the better produced records on the northwest metal scene presently. The songs possess this weight to them that can be felt through either headphones or speakers, while Jackson Bengtsson’s vocals surf through the track in their more melodic moments and assert dominance in breakdowns that transform the songs into tiny sonic mosh pits (apparent on ‘Conquest’ and ‘Journeys’).

…But Far From New

While the EP doesn’t quite create something truly original as the band seems to take much inspiration from metalcore giants Bring Me the Horizon, the record does demonstrate a clear drive to improve as the composition of all parties is tightly wound within each-other. Highlight ‘Only God Knows’ is the track that best demonstrates the technical prowess of the band and serves as a good middle point between the chunky riffing and the melodic voicing, creating a payoff that rarely feels overbearing.

In the Right Path

“Surface” is a much more focused entry in the band’s discography. The EP balances itself on both restraint and confidence and displays a growing maturity in the band’s development. While they certainly have quite a ways to go as they must find their own identity, they are currently on a steady trajectory that, with time, will allow them to contend with some of the greats of the genre.


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Photographer and Editor of Soundlink Magazine, A Father, A Husband and a Martial Artist. Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

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