It’s already been a year full of releases that proudly defy the limitations of genres applied to them. Disentomb‘s third full-length, The Decaying Light shoots for this too. The Australian brutal death practitioners made fans wait five years for a new dose of hair raising, skin blistering jams- 2014’s Misery widely regarded as one of the most intense death metal records of the year – so now, in this sweltering summer (winter for them), the band have bestowed upon the masses an incredibly weighty tome. Seriously, there’s a LOT of metal in this here record. For anyone unfamiliar with the band, don’t lump them along with the atrociously named, snapback wearing hordes of sound-a-likes that plague the brutal death tag on Bandcamp.
The Decaying Light moves further from the slam hammering of bog-standard brutal death with Disentomb slipping further into the kind of subterranean sound that threatened to dominate Misery. Immediately, the guitars and vocals merge into a smothering blanket of deviant sound. “Your Prayers Echo Into Nothingness” kicks off the record proper, peppering Jordan James’ hateful belching over sturdy riffing that moves and shifts styles over a tireless, almost comically relentless drum performance. The crushing feel of this style of metal can often depend on the production and on this LP it really plays a part. Outside of the intermittent pops of glassy, sharp bass, every riff and meaty mashing of the bottom few frets is enveloped in a tone more akin to doom or sludge. It’s impressively deep and dirty, but actually ends up kind of irksome.
Listening to this the second time around the tracks were shuffled. Could have fooled me. While Disentomb have mastered the art of turning humans into skin’n’bone gloop with their titanic death metal, the abrasive production ends up washing over a lot of the riffs, vocals, and most importantly, the drum fills. “Undying Dysphoria”, “Dredged into Abandonment”, and “The Droning Monolith” are all great titles. Seriously great titles. The tracks themselves are almost interchangeable though. Still bruising and brutal, but a bit vacant. It’s a shame, because the performances underneath all the filth are mighty – the rampant trem-picking and vicious blasting clearly aided by the band’s obvious physical upkeep. Look ’em up. They are death metal superheroes.
The Decaying Light still has some moments where slam fans will drop their hammers out of disbelief. Shock, even. Opener “Collapsing Skies” lays down some frightening atmospherics behind a funeral dirge of death metal, almost tricking the listener into expecting more low-tempo destruction. It’s not a trick though, but it takes some time to get to “The Great Abandonment” – the real standout track from Disentomb this time around. The dark acoustic epilogue that closes the record is fantastic and eerie – think Danny Elfman in cargo shorts – but could have turned the course for the middle of the record. It might seem daft criticising a band who’ve never shied from brutality for not implementing enough acoustic or atmospheric elements, but hey, each to their own.
Disentomb will continue to be one of the hot tickets of global death metal. The sheer domination that their face-stomping music and much sought after live performances will confirm this. The Decaying Light is a colossal record, but at three-quarters of an hour, the brutality might stagnate for some. Whether this latest record tops the sublime Misery is yet to be confirmed, but what’s for sure is that there is scope here for the Australian powerhouses to dominate just about every arm of death metal. Anyone with the stamina to survive this onslaught will surely feel like the figure being devoured on the gorgeous album art.
The Decaying Light is available July 12 via Unique Leader Records.