Disembarkation – Rancorous Observision
Do you like heavily jazz-influenced old-school technical death metal? I’m talking Atheist, Pestilence and the likes. If so, you probably know how hard it is to find bands that make similar music, let alone do it well. Hey, it’s all good; you have me to save you. Disembarkation are technical death/jazz fusion band from, you guessed it, Quebec, Canada. There’s all you want here: an old-school production that is very calm and lets the instruments breathe, the bass is as audible as anything else in the mix and plays its own role, and the vocals are just the right texture, somewhere between Atheist and Martyr I guess. If you’re not already drooling right now, this one probably isn’t for you. But if you are, just jump in already. This is good.
So the album starts up with an intro, “The Indeliable Drama“. Some weird sounds, and some guitars, sounds of people yelling and in pain, and then the vocals come in. This is all a setup for the real first song, but it’s already creepy and you’d think this was made in the early 90’s when this genre was at its high point. “Aushwitz” comes in with an excellently eerie lead line, and then the song goes full on classic tech death. This is already like a love letter to great old bands like Atheist. If I didn’t look up the release date, there would be no way that I’d believe this was made in 2000. I don’t mean this in a bad way – this record is perfect if you are into those bands. The lines are so intricate, every instrument does something interesting, and the composition is so old-school and jazzy. There’s so much going on in this song that I can’t go into it section by section, but there’s a short jazz break, tempo changes, beautiful and long lead lines, tortured vocals that are just right, and perfect guitar, bass and drum lines.
These guys clearly know what they’re doing, and to be honest, they do it better than the reunited crews of some of those old bands. Well, it’s been nine years since they split up, so I guess now they can be considered an old band too. Ah, the times. At times they actually sound like Obscura at times, which goes to show how ahead of their time these guys were.
“In The Mouth of Madness” is yet another crazy exercise in riffing and fusion. It’s more groove oriented than the previous tracks at times, showing yet another side of this fascinating record. It’s so atonal and chaotic, but there are still hooks and memorable lines. That can partly be attributed to the catchy rhythms of the vocal lines; they emphasize certain beats with respect to the other instruments, which adds some aggression and flow to the song. There’s also some low growls, spoken parts and the usual wailing in this song. The song slowly fades away into a mass of jazzy riffs, and we are greeted by…
…a jazz-fusion tech death cover of “The Flight Of The Bumblebee“! This is so ridiculously good. Taking a classical piece and making it completely their own is not something many bands can manage – usually it’s either a complete imitation or total butchery that has nothing to do with the original – but this fits perfectly, and if I didn’t know about the original piece beforehand, I wouldn’t have thought of it as something separate from the album. It fits perfectly and is executed with great finesse. Unbelievable.
There’s so much going on in each individual song that you probably should listen to this record multiple times to feel and understand everything completely. There’s this weird break in “Effusion Of Reality” where the bass plays a classically influenced riff , which is accompanied only by fast drums and a jazzy lead line. And then there’s more of the Cryptopsy riffing again.
This stuff is so weird and unique. Yes, I kept saying it’s reminiscent of Atheist, Pestilence and Death, but they’re mixed together in such a way that the end product resembles all of them and none of them simultaneously, all the while paving the roads for future bands like the aforementioned Obscura. At times the vocals are not death metal at all, either sounding like Martyr or utilising falsettos, which interestingly don’t sound out of place.
“Eyes of Hypocrisy” starts with a clean guitar line that sounds classically influenced, and after a while it starts to get really interesting. Clearly this is being played with two handed tapping, and it’s executed with great finesse. Soon, you realize that this is the entirety of the song, and an ominous narration backed by keyboards finishes off this weird, anachronistic masterpiece, and you’re left with a gaping desire for more…
Which is a shame, because, as I mentioned, these guys disbanded in 2002. This kind of music is archaic, unpopular and too complicated for modern audiences now, and not many bands make it any more. The closest to this you can get from a modern band is probably Obscura’s Omnivium, which I recently reviewed, and I believe that is worth checking out if you already haven’t. Other than that, and perhaps a few half-assed revival attempts by reunited old bands, music isn’t made like this anymore, so cherish this obscure little gem here (OHMYGODHEUSEDTHETITLEINTHEPOST!!).
Pass it on to the next generation along with the greats so that it is not forgotten. I have a few more albums like this one lined up for future articles, so stay tuned if you hunger for more.