Twitching Tongues are the best kind of sore thumb. While channeling a variety of hardcore and metal influences their unique sound is esoteric and resists lazy classification, yet it is equally dynamic, powerful, and instantly gripping. Having dropped two full-lengths, toured extensively and garnered a cult following, the band's third album - and Metal Blade debut - Disharmony sees them truly come into their own.
Dramatically building upon the foundations of 2013's In Love There Is No Law, the LA-based quintet pushed themselves both musically and emotionally to create something that is not only fresh and exciting but really matters. "We feel that we've finally written the record we were supposed to make. This is what we've been building up to since we started the band," states vocalist Colin Young. "We've always put everything we've got into our music, but this one is more personal. It's darker, it's more aggressive, and I'm sure it will be more polarizing too, but we're more invested in it than anything we've done before, and we couldn't be prouder of the end result."
Formed in 2009 by Young and his guitarist brother Taylor, the band's initial sound was "all over the place", but through constantly playing shows and being driven to create new material they steadily refined their music, picking up more and more fans along the way. Twitching Tongues embarked on multiple headlining US tours, and ventured overseas to play in Europe, Japan and Australia, and with the release of In Love There Is No Law - featuring the current lineup of the Young brothers, drummer Michael Cesario, bassist Kyle Thomas and guitarist Leo Orozco - they connected with their followers even more profoundly. While Young still loves that record and the doors it opened for them, Disharmony has eclipsed it in almost every way. "By the time In Love There Is No Law came out we had already dropped two songs on a 7", and a third as a single several months earlier, so there were really only six fresh songs when it came out. This time, we have ten brand new songs that we are so excited about, everything is fresh, and everything is a step up from what came before it."
It only takes one listen of Disharmony to be convinced of Young's claim. Shot through with urgency, everything exists on an emotional razor's edge, it is a more ambitious record, more dynamic, and more achingly frank. Moreover, with each successive exposure to the record it reveals hidden depths and richer melodies, drawing the listener further and further into both the musical fabric and the exposed emotional state of Young. "We started writing and noticed it was coming out way heavier, more extreme, and we just went with it, and I also knew straight away that I really wanted this record to be more cinematic. For the past couple of years I've listened to almost nothing but King Diamond, and the cinematic experience of the first six or seven records is fucking untouchable. That really influenced me in writing the synth parts, and wanting to make everything feel cohesive, so when you put the record on it's one big experience."
Having achieved this is all the more impressive for there being a great deal of diversity across Disharmony, often within individual songs. The opening title track is drenched in menace, assaulting the listener with Slayer-esque guitar abuse, and its slow motion chorus hammers down with unrepentant, bludgeoning ferocity, and the frenzied "Cannibal" is easily the most violent music the band have put their name to. However, in contrast to this there is the brooding, electronic "Arrival", which is a continuation of the acoustic track "Departure", from ILTINL. "We wanted to kind of have a similar feeling where the tone of the record quite literally departs from the overall sound, and we knew we had to do that in a different way. We thought doing a Depeche Mode-meets-Godflesh industrial electronic track was the way to go, and it really is something special," Young explains.
Their most ambitious statement comes in the form of 8-minute closer "Cruci-Fiction", a lumbering, ugly beast drenched in spite and evil. "We sat down and said we're going to write a song and it's got to be the biggest thing we've ever written, and we actually started from the keyboard outro and worked backwards. We knew the vibe we wanted for the chorus, which was Type O Negative's World Coming Down meets Warning's Watching From A Distance, and I think the result speaks for itself."
Penning the lyrics for Disharmony was very much a cathartic process for Young, his life experiences over the two years since releasing its predecessor providing him with the "pain that is required to make an amazing, memorable album." Much of his anguish stemming from the end of a relationship of several years, he channels the emotions this unleashed into "Insincerely Yours", "The End Of Love" and "Love Conquers None", the record's pivotal lyric emerging from the latter, screaming 'love is a lie, forged by mankind'. "I was feeling it and I wanted to say it. I wanted to put it out there, and at that point it stops being a personal message but one for anybody who has felt that way, and there are a lot of people who have felt that way."
Elsewhere, "Cruci-Fiction" furthers Young's previously established dissection of Christianity and organized religion, while the title track tells the full journey of Twitching Tongues, Young believing that the term disharmony not only sums up the theme of the record but the band's entire existence. "When we first did the live video premiere of "Disharmony" at Hellfest there were already people saying this doesn't make sense, why is he singing over this? I'm there thinking that's the fucking point. That's disharmony, we've done it, thanks for proving it."
However, perhaps the most achingly painful and personal song on the record is "Asylum Avenue", which while on first impression sounds far more metaphorical, is rooted in some of the greatest distress the vocalist has experienced. "It's a lyrical and spiritual successor to our song "Preacher Man" [from ILTINL]. That was me looking at the situation described in the song as a child and articulating that, and this is me as an adult, somebody who - if I wanted to - has the ability to kill a man in cold blood, and particularly this man who wronged me and my family. I daydream about ending his life on a constant basis, and that song is my window into that being a reality. When we tracked the chorus for the first time I teared up, it really hit me like a sack of bricks."
As with the album's predecessors, engineering, production and mixing was handled by Taylor Young, brother Colin asserting that it's his "engineering masterpiece", and the chunky, layered sound and dynamism of the recording bears this out. With most of the songs written with the live scenario in mind they wanted to capture that energy and spontaneity, and the process itself was a profound time in the band's existence, aware they were creating something truly special. Caught up in this excitement it came together very quickly, and, in fact from some fans' point of view, almost worryingly so.
"Everything went so smoothly, and before we knew it we were on track and flying through it. We were posting about the recording process as we went, and people were seeing that and saying slow down! Don't go so fast!" Young laughs. "But we were taking our time. The best part about making music is making music, and we were always on our toes, so excited to see the outcome, and everything just came really naturally." With the finished result exceeding even their own expectations, the band are hungry to play the songs of Disharmony to the fans, both those recently acquired and those who have supported them since day one.
"Within the first year of the band some guy had my lyrics tattooed on his chest, and another guy got a tattoo on his head. That kind of passion was a sign, saying to us alright, we're doing something that people are going to get behind, it's not only us who believe in what we're doing. It's such a comforting thing to be able to play a city five years after you played there the first time and some of the same people are there singing along. Clearly they're still around for the long haul, and it will be a long haul, because even though we've been around a while this really feels like the beginning."