posted on 4/2012 By:
Australia’s pioneering dISEMBOWELMENT is still spoken of in hushed and reverent tones for a simple reason: The band’s sole album, 1993’s Transcendence into the Peripheral, is an unmatched clinic in woozily beautiful primordial doom/death metal. The fact that the band so swiftly dissolved back into whatever fell landscape had birthed it only added to the album’s mystique and canonical stature. (As an aside, two of dISEMBOWELMENT’s members formed a tribal/ambient/folk project called Trial of the Bow, whose Relapse-issued album Rite of Passage is excellent, and forms a somewhat similar relationship to dISEMBOWELMENT as some of the early, non-album-synching Tribes Of Neurot efforts do to Neurosis.)
By 1993, of course, dirge-frotteurs and seekers of head-crushing caveman-doom had already been subjected to important salvos from Paradise Lost, Winter, Cathedral, and so forth, but dISEMBOWELMENT’s Transcendence preceded major statements from Thergothon, Esoteric, Skepticism, Evoken, Morgion, and all the rest of the soon-to-be-hallowed pantheon of worse living through bummed-out riffs. Still, the intervening years (almost two decades now) have seen a fecund blossoming of depraved doom-fiends traipsing down the desolate paths first haltingly laid down by these seriously Down-Underers. With Inverloch, then, the new project from dISEMBOWELMENT’s bassist Matt Skarajew and drummer Paul Mazziota, the twin weights of expectation and competition hang heavy and loom large. Thankfully, the band largely sidesteps any such concerns by pealing out three tunes of rich but ragged malevolence in such self-assured fashion that the soul rests easy; the legacy is safe.
After a few minutes of slowly building atmospheric plunking, “Within Frozen Beauty” kicks in at a surprisingly full gale force of flurried blast beats and unexpectedly agile death metal fret-jumping. The production is live and rough, particularly on the drums, which suits the material wonderfully and aids in making the mental link all the way back to Transcendence. The frantic tom-tom rolls that crop up in “Shadows of the Flame” sound dry and rubbery enough that they wouldn’t feel out of place on the latest Revenge album.
The overall textural palette feels deeper and more seamless with Inverloch than it ever did for dISEMBOWELMENT, where the crippling dirges were savage blasts of sheet metal rain against which the atmospheric and melodic accoutrements felt alien and alienating rather than soothing (this, of course, was a major charm of dISEMBOWELMENT’s fumbling - if foundational - steps headlong into a sub-genre with few clearly-formed blueprints). It’s difficult to tell if the smoothing out of those harsh disconnections from the dISEMBOWELMENT playbook is more a product of intentional songwriting/production technique or the simple fact that so much time has elapsed in the evolution of extreme music, but when the result is this dense and darkly driven, it’s easy to forget the question and drone out to the door of dream’s kingdom.
“The Menin Road” slips most comfortably into the funeral doom/death sweet spot, with morosely plucked clean arpeggios refracting through a single-mindedly slothful death march. The pitiless crunch and stomp gets even heavier around the 4:30 mark with the addition of extra string layers, increasingly flailing vocals, and some dangerously hard-struck drums. Still, album closer “Shadows of the Flame” is probably the best song on here, as it encapsulates the full breadth of Inverloch’s stylistic tricks, from murky but spry head-down death-riffing, to drippingly deep dark ambiance, to great suspension bridges of open reverberation and sparsely deliberate doom downbeats.
My few complaints are mostly minor. The most persistent is that the ambient atmospheric bits that open and segue between each song are mastered at a significantly lower volume than the metallic bits they bookend. One assumes it’s done intentionally so that if the listener wants to hear the droney sections with anything approaching clarity, she must also steel herself to be blasted straight to hell by suboceanic eruptions, which is all well and good, but the contrast is a little exaggerated. Beyond that, it does feel a little odd to settle down with this style of music for a mere twenty-odd minutes, but that means that Dusk...Subside never once overstays its welcome, and leaves the long-suffering dISEMBOWELMENT fan both partially sated and yet slavering for more. As far as sitting a question such as “Legacy?” down in a chair and matter-of-factly delivering a “Fuck you and then some” kiss-off, it doesn’t get much better than that. dISEMBOWELMENT is dead; long live Inverloch.
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