Touch me oh please I want to know that it's real
And if it's not it's better just to pretend
And if it's not it's better just to pretend
Mind Seduction Aftermath
Discordance Axis’ members may rank The Inalienable Dreamless as a personal milestone in their various musical careers, but that is not what made that record a transformative grindcore landmark. In the decade since its release The Inalienable Dreamless has become a life-changing touchstone for a new wave of musicians who have internalized that album’s influence as they craft their own art. A misunderstood anomaly in their day, Discordance Axis are now considered grindcore pioneers who opened the doors to new modes of expression.
“More and more people talk about it as the years go by,” drummer Dave Witte said. “I think it really appeals to the musicians as well.”
Noisear guitarist Dorian Rainwater said The Inalienable Dreamless represented “pure adrenalized, unadulterated grind,” influencing his own band’s development.
“The Inalienable Dreamless is a landmark release and the pinnacle of their career,” he said. “It was at the height of their existence and a beautiful display of artistic audio violence.”
Noisear was one of the first American bands to overtly draw inspiration from Discordance Axis’ sleek, technical grindcore, as well as lifting influences from Witte’s former outfit Human Remains. In addition to contributing a cover of “Mimetic” to Discordance Axis' farewell collection Our Last Day, Noisear would also include six Discordance Axis covers on 2007 album Pyroclastic Annhiallation.
That appreciation flows both ways because vocalist Jon Chang would later poach Noisear drummer Bryan Fajardo for his post-Discordance Axis band GridLink.
“Bryan’s emphasis on single pedal blast beats and Dave Witte’s style has been a huge influence on his growth a drummer throughout the years,” Rainwater said. “He, Thomas [Romero, Noisear guitarist] and Angelo [Perea, ex-guitarist] were constantly learning a variety of DA songs and eventually the dissonant chord voicings, hyper blasting, unorthodox patterns bled into our music. For me, personally, DA has always been an influence as well. Chang’s high pitched screaming vocals, raging guttural violence and Rob Marton’s unique guitar playing has an effect on grind unlike many others in the genre who struggle to get this effect with little to no progress.”
Body Hammer's Ryan Page only sought out The Inalienable Dreamless after his 2009 album, Jigoku, was repeatedly compared to Discordance Axis for its fixation on Japanese horror films and its DVD packaging. While the similarities were coincidental, Page said he discovered The Inalienable Dreamless as a result.
"I was extremely impressed with the album, especially the purity of it," Page said. "I enjoyed that the music was all timbrally very similar, and yet carried very distinct songs. That's a something quite difficult to navigate, and even bands I really enjoy like Insect Warfare start to sound samey at album length. Jon Chang's lyrics have always impressed me. It's not particularly common in grindcore or in any other sort of music for abstract, personal lyrics to communicate with the clarity and emotional impact of his writing. Oftentimes lyrics are either solipsistic or they're these cliches that isn't really representative of anything."
Throughout Discordance Axis’s career Chang drew much of lyrical inspiration from Japanese entertainment and pop culture and the band always seemed to resonate there more than it did in the United States.
“Even if you count the Steve Procopio shows, we played more shows in Japan than we did in the U.S. in the history of the band,” Chang said. “We didn’t play a lot of shows in the U.S. at all because nobody would come. There were shows where literally two people were there. Nobody showed up.”
Chang’s interest in Japan was reciprocated by boisterous music fans who were the first to glom on to Discordance Axis’ unique musical and lyrical style. Japanese grinders were among the first to recognize and incorporate Discordance Axis influences into their own music as well.
“Discordance Axis had already been famous in Japan when I [found] their music,” Mortalized guitarist Takafumi Matsurbara said.
Though Mortalized’s technical, relentless sound was not directly influenced by Discordance Axis, Matsubara said he was naturally drawn to another band that was blasting and lacked a bass player.
“We have no bassist in our band, so I was interested in them,” he said. “And Dave is a one foot blast drummer, Rob likes Voivod, those are similar to us. Those are the reasons why I was interested in them.”
Matsubara, who would later join Chang in Hayaino Daisuki and GridLink, called Discordance Axis “one of the greatest bands.”
“I will love DxAx forever,” he said.
Gate guitarist and vocalist Toshinori Otake called The Inalienable Dreamless “the most favorite of my favorites.” The Japanese grindcore duo have covered Discordance Axis extensively, including contributing covers of “The Inalienable Dreamless” and “Radiant Arkham” to Our Last Day. As a band, Otake said Gate was immediately influenced by Discordance Axis. He felt pushed to write faster and more complex music after discovering Jouhou.
“Jouhou, this is the first one I listened to,” he said. “It was in 1999 or 2000, Gate was just formed. My first impression was like, ‘What the fuck!’ I'd never listened to this kind of grindcore music. I had started writing some songs for Gate, like our first demo and Soon to be Sodomized 7-inch, just after listening to Discordance Axis. I wanted to play [in a] faster and [more] complex way.”
Many grind bands cite Discordance Axis – particularly Marton’s guitar performance – as an important influence, but Marton said he’s reluctant to take any credit for inspiring other musicians.
“I do hear stuff that I think, ‘Oh yeah that could totally be an influence.’ Maybe it could be, maybe not,” Marton said. “I never want to think it was our influence. Maybe. Maybe somebody did. I don’t have the feeling we were that influential. Maybe we were.”
Though Discordance Axis never meshed with the grindcore and metal scene during their life, posthumously the band has found champions among cultural tastemakers who tout The Inalienable Dreamless as an important musical milestone. In March 2009 Decibel selected The Inalienable Dreamless for its Hall of Fame as part of its all-grindcore special issue, further cementing the album’s legendary status.
“To that point we had done a lot of the no brainers, Repulsion Horrified, Napalm Death Scum,” Decibel Editor in Chief Albert Mudrian, author of Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore, said. “We were doing a special grindcore issue at the time, and I was thinking of what great grindcore records hadn’t we included to that point.”
Inducting The Inalienable Dreamless into the Hall of Fame was “a logical next step for us,” representing the second wave of important grindcore bands that included Nasum and Pig Destroyer, Mudrian said.
“If anything at all, it’s still horribly unappreciated,” Mudrian said. “When people roll out the Mount Rushmore of grindcore, I don’t think for the most part they include that record. They’re picking one of the early Napalm Death records, they’re picking Horrified, they’re picking Symphonies of Sickness. Maybe they’re throwing in Brutal Truth. If they’re searching for credibility, maybe they’ll throw some S.O.B. in there. I think there’s some romanticism of the '90s and late '80s. … It’s going to change. It’s going to take time for that stuff to be fully accepted and appreciated. I’ve got friends who are my age who still love extreme metal and classic records and I feed them stuff to check out. I guarantee the majority of them haven’t heard that record.”
Hydra Head co-owner Aaron Turner said there’s an authenticity to The Inalienable Dreamless. Discordance Axis was unwilling to bend artistically to accommodate what was accepted and conventional at the time. The honesty and emotional integrity are what elevate The Inalienable Dreamless from the grindcore masses, attracting a new wave of fans and admirers a decade after the band’s demise.
“One of the things that made them able to do what they were doing with a single-minded approach is they didn’t care what scene they were a part of. They weren’t trying to keep up with their peers,” Turner said. “[Chang] is very determined to get things done the right way. I totally respect that work ethic and that creative focus. It wouldn’t seem that unusual for that kind of thing to exist if it weren’t for the fact that a lot of people seem content to do things to the point they’re good enough.”
For Discordance Axis “good enough” was never good enough.
“With The Inalienable Dreamless we had a common vision, a common goal,” Chang said. “It was three people bringing their A Game to the plate. At that point we had an A Game because we’d been doing it for 10 years. We never took a step back. We never made a Harmony Corruption or ‘Greed Killing.’ ”