posted on 11/2006 By:
You may be looking for blood, but you’re not going to get it from me on this one. Leading up to the release of Gloria, disillusioned (sorry) fans have been ready to absolutely skewer this band for a sophomore effort that is a 180 style-wise, and is sure to raise eyebrows for both its dramatic style shift, and some of the band’s decisions therein. Disillusion’s first album, Back to Times of Splendor, was very deservedly heaped with praise, and this left turn of a follow up is the very definition of a love it or hate it effort. I’m here to tell you why you’re both right.
For starters, regardless of this album’s quality, those whom were anxiously awaiting a follow up to Splendor are in for a natural and unavoidable what-the-fuck reaction with the first spin of this album. Regardless of whether you come to appreciate it, there’s a damn good chance you’re gonna double check the name on the cd the first time you hit play. This kind of radical departure from a band is always a tricky adjustment–the fact that it follows such a highly regarded debut simply compounds the issue, as even an album in the same style would be subjected to a harsh spotlight of comparison. If an optimist sees the glass as half full, and the pessimist as half empty, the metalhead is likely to obsess (and loudly, at that) that the water to come will NEVER be as good as the first drink from that glass. Those roadblocks in mind, Gloria would have to be a monumental album to win over the band’s recalcitrant audience. And it’s simply not. But it’s not awful either, regardless of what you might hear. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
The recognizable tie between this album and the last is the band’s progressive proclivities. Well, that and the distinctive vocals, but we’ll get to those in a moment. But while Back to Times of Splendor had a lot of crossover appeal to none-prog friendly listeners, Gloria is bound to be embraced almost exclusively by fans of progressive and avantgarde affairs, and a love for electronics will certainly help matters as well. Splendor’s marathon length proggy melodic death metal had an epic, Opeth-ian grandeur, but these days comparisons are more easily made to Arcturus. If that’s not the right ballpark, it is at least the right sport. Metal plays a role here, but the emphasis is on melding styles and textures of genres, creating a heavily polished and meticulously constructed approach. In many ways, Disillusion is quite successful in this integration. This a band of considerable talent, and there are occasions when it’s startling just how close they come to creating something truly special. But Gloria feels like a transition album, and as such the band tends to bump up against the right and wrong answers in a random and maddeningly inconsistent manner. Not that the band let on for even one second that they feel like they’re still breaking in their new shoes–it sounds like they are quite confident doing what they’re doing. Gotta applaud musicians making music for themselves first. The obvious flip side is that just because they love it doesn’t mean you have to. And I didn’t. Had I not gotten this for review, I wouldn’t have sat through the entire album even once. But I’m glad I did. I cannot remember an album making a worse false first impression, but with time I began to come to acceptable terms with Gloria.
At its best, Gloria is a bold, creative display of an impressively constructed blend of metal and electronica. The songs are skillfully developed, and even if you take exception to any given song’s predominant theme, there is a good chance that the fine details and accents of the track will eventually niggle their way into your head. The guitar work is subtly solid. Some of the riffs are fairly unassuming, and in general the metal content gets boiled down in order to mesh with the other elements, but the guitar work succeeds by adding accents and layering, which is important considering how hard the material leans on electronics. When Gloria falters—and it manages to both succeed and falter in nearly every track--it’s usually because the collision of electronic, melodic, and metal elements don’t mesh together well or sound just too damn quirky. The vocals manage to make giant checkmarks into both the pro and con columns. Although the clean vocals on Splendor were often quite impressive, they sometimes wandered into melodramatic territory, and that comes up from time to time here. More substantially, the vocal lines are often heavily effected, which works better at some times than others. The frequent spoken word delivery is also touch and go. At times, the heavily German accented spoken word lines and remedial electronic lines (don’t mistake "electronic" with cutting edge modernity) almost cause you to start to wonder whether Falco is gonna show up and start singing about Der Kommissar or Amadeus. The bottom line is that there is an embarrassment of both riches and fumbles on Gloria. Although the latter are easier to spot from the get-go, there is enough going on in these songs to eventually hook fans of the progressive and avantgarde, although if you’re not already among that group this album probably won’t do much to convert you. Great band, over-ambitious album. Still, it’s hard not to give the band some credit for going all in with their creative vision. It’s a bold move, no doubt.
Register to post comments.