Disillusion – Gloria Review

Disillusion, indeed. If they were trying to wrest all optimism from my scrawny little hands, they have failed. On the contrary, this album gives me hope that creativity still exists in the world outside of Mike Patton.

The album starts off with “The Black Sea,” which is like two! Two! Two songs in one! I’ve never heard such a thing, but shouldn’t have expected any less from the clever Germans. It has the most energy of all the album’s cuts, and relentlessly changes direction on a dime. It switches crisply and unexpectedly from a murky metal chug-a-chug that plays like a scuffed and battered Prong to a punchy, toe-tapping club dance beat with garbled, digitized vocal effects probably better left to Cher. Mind you, it is in fact the same song and as such the instruments don’t change, but the flavors of the two halves are so disparate as to cause one to wonder if they were recorded as separate songs and then spliced together in the last mix.

Such are my conflicting feelings about this album. Some of it I really enjoy, some of it I despise – the entire album is an exercise in dichotomies. It’s almost as though Disillusion have consciously created this contrast as an experiment in manipulating the listeners’ emotions, cacophonous and wildly rampant as their musical themes are. A good slice of it I find too abrasive and overstuffed with sound, as though they were fearful of leaving any open space whatsoever; other parts, like the spoken intro for “Don’t Go Any Further,” is abstruse and esoteric. Then by contrast there’s the title track, which has a gorgeous section of harmonized guitars that really strike an emotional chord with me, if you will. It all adds up to an experiment in conflicting feelings. It vacillates from inspiring major keys to forlorn minor keys and back again; it runs into you head-on with a pulsing, thrashing beat and then pulls back and soothes you with reverential female vocals and Opeth-esque lullaby tones. And it often will run the gamut of these aspects several times within the course of one song.

But through the album, the unifying thread is a certain underlying beauty and celebration of sound in all of the songs. This is what a German metal band is SUPPOSED to sound like – screw Rammstein and their big-label simplification. This is dark, weird, creepy, artsy, and severe in huge, undiluted doses. Think Einsturzende Neubauten minus the cohesiveness and plodding tempos – and you know, I bet Disillusion get that all the time and are sick of it. I can picture them sitting in their tour bus, reading their reviews: “ANOTHER goddamn American journalist compared us to them! We do NOT sound like Neubaten, Gott-damnit!” But you know, I can’t help but draw the comparison, common motherland aside. They may fall into completely different genres, but the juxtaposition of odd sounds and WTF-type oddness is present in both.

This is not a catchy album. It doesn’t have licks or sharp little riffs; it’s not hummable (or singable, for that matter). It’s rather long as well; two songs less would’ve been ample length to convey their musical ideas. As for pushing the boundaries and trying something different, though, it’s worth a listen. Even if you decide their gloomy experimentalism isn’t for you, I recommend you at least check out the gallery on their webpage for some awesome photography.

Website: Disillusion