Review Summary: Italy's attempt at the melodic death metal genre makes for an impressive introduction.
Being known as an Italian death metal band who borrows extensively from the sounds Gothenburg made famous isn’t the best way to get your name thrown around out there in the wonderful world of metal. Going on-top of that, to be known as that metal band from Italy who so extensively dabbles with the Gothenburg sound that they eventually recruited one of her major players in Soilwork
front-man Bjornn Strid, left many wondering if this venture was worth the bother. Thus was the fate of the Italian melodic death metallers in question, Disarmonia Mundi
: are they just another clone band desperately trying to emulate their idols, or could Strid’s popularity in the metal community perhaps over-take the rest of the band?
Though all of this would be a few albums in the making, it’s unfortunate (or fortunate depending on which angle your viewing it from) that people will generally stumble across this band through that connection with Soilwork. Sure it helps to draw a crowd, and it’s definitely done its job (hence the introduction), but I’m trying to present a Disarmonia Mundi in their earliest incarnation – one who may have found their sound just a little too early. I say too early because the material the band conjured up for their debut offering, 2002’s Nebularium
is some pretty top notch melodic death metal that seems to get lost in the hype that was supposed to be Bjorn and Mind Tricks
Getting on with the actual substance of Nebularium and DM (Meaning Disharmony of the World) as a band could best be started with Ettore Rigotti, the band’s founder and lead guitarist, but also the man responsible for handling drumming, keyboard, and clean vocal duties for this release. Nebularium is an independent release, stemming from multiple recording sessions within Rigotti’s home studio. Fleshing out the band’s first line-up would be Benny Bianco Chinto performing death vocals, Simone Palermiti taking on additional guitar and keyboard roles, and Mirco Andreis on the low-end. While the approach of this quartet’s music doesn’t stray all that far from the melodic death metal they try to replicate, there are definitely a few small factors that help them keep their heads above water. The production values for one thing, shine above a lot of the bands peers in the genre; given the fact Rigotti did all the recording in a home studio is an achievement that feels pretty heavy in itself. The band is also prone to breakdowns that seem to come out of almost no where, somewhat similar to some of Opeth’s
, but with a lot more jazz and almost non-existent acoustical arrangements. It’s easy to say that the vast majority of melodeath bands out there are sub-par, but these guys seem to bring a little something special to the table.
The opener Into Disarmonia Mundi
does little to separate the band’s sound from their peers, though it really is just an introduction to the actual band itself. The following Blue Lake
is where this disc really starts to shine, using the previously mentioned breakdown method beautifully. It’s crushing riffing and admirable drumbeats (given the band didn’t have a real drummer at this point) are damn catchy, and transitional perfectly to the headbanging glory of Mechanichell
. This song is also an introduction to Ettore’s clean vocals, which, while nothing special, compliment Chinto’s nicely. These guys have really mastered the basics here: a nice combination of death and clean vocals (the latter not found in a cliché chorus like other melodeath bands) dynamic duel guitars, and pounding but melodic drumbeats. At times (listen to Guilty Claims
) the band seems to draw some influences from fellow Italian metallers Novembre
, though perhaps this is somewhat of a regional sound. Despite the comparison, the song eventually blends to a gorgeous melodic moment with some duel guitar harmonies and a little attempt at ambience thrown in for good measure. There aren’t a lot of weak spots to be found on this record, which is always a bonus for a band’s debut offering. While some songs definitely will come to stand out to the individual listener, this disc is good for the full, uninterrupted play.
There’s little doubt that Disarmonia Mundi more than borrows from the classic Gothenburg sound, or even that they seemed set out with that goal as their prime objective. Still, somewhere amidst the countless jam sessions and demo attempts they stumbled across some individual characteristics that would put their own name on their sound. Call it the revolving door of musicians that have come in and out of the band, the help they’ve had from some of the genre’s major players, or perhaps even where they hail from; something managed to creep into this bands sound, twisting it to a shape with the outline of melodic death metal, but with some new patterns to enjoy.