Dog Spelled Backwards

Dog Spelled Backwards is Anthony Ofenloch, Zak Zuñiga, Denis Cheng and Max Sterner -- Courtesy of Denis Cheng

Discoveries of 2020: Dog Spelled Backwards & Diagonal – Neal Zeleznak

Dog Spelled Backwards and Diagonal hit the top of Chicago Sound Check photographer Neal Zeleznak’s list.

Editor’s note: In this crazy year devoid of local shows, discovering new favorites hasn’t been easy. We asked a few friends, colleagues and scene contributors for some of the Chicago-area bands who cut through the noise and truly won them over in 2020. Today, Chicago Sound Check concert photographer Neal Zeleznak, shares two of his discoveries from this year.


This year I’ve been trying to expand my music taste, and I’m excited to share with you two very different bands that helped me do that. 

First up is Dog Spelled Backwards, a metalcore band that is not for the faint of heart. They completed their lineup in February when Anthony Ofenloch joined guitarists Zak Zuñiga and (fellow Sound Check photographer) Denis Cheng, along with their drummer Max Sterner.

The band combines elements from an array of hardcore punk and metal bands, producing a very heavy and brutal sound. DSB is for fans of Slipknot, Architects, Emarosa, Veil of Maya, Polaris, Monuments and the like.

In May they released their first EP which was dubbed Wholy, and have more recently released two singles and a haunting cover of ‘Aerials’ by System of a Down. I am beyond excited to see them take the stage when the pandemic conditions allow, as these songs have all been playing on repeat since the pandemic struck. 

Next on my list is a psychedelic five piece band called Diagonal. The band is composed of Silas Mishler (vocals/guitar), Dan Jarvis (guitar), Alex Brumley (guitar), Chris Detlaff (drums), and Brad Althaus (bass/organ/keyboards). 

The quintet’s latest single, “Anticipation,” is a catchy and shoegazey groove that makes me feel like I’m inside a lava lamp as I listen to it. Along with the single, they released an 11-minute instrumental jam that keeps the vibe going perfectly. 

For a taste of their live experience, I would recommend checking out their live sessions of “Negatives” and “Monotony” recorded at DZ Records, which can be found on YouTube. The band recently announced that their upcoming self-titled LP will be released mid February on Little Cloud Records.