O'Brother
Disillusion


4.2
excellent

Review

by Greg Fisher STAFF
August 19th, 2013 | 169 replies


Release Date: 08/20/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: O'Brother make steady progress on their sophomore album.

With the release of Garden Window, Atlanta-based O'Brother struck a chord with listeners. Amid its numerous successes, the quintet's debut full-length ranked among the best albums of 2011 as selected by Sputnik users. The positive reception of the record enabled the band to tour extensively, putting them in a favorable position before the irrevocable second effort. O'Brother are perfectly aware of their established sound's strength, and their new output doesn't really mark any significant shift in style in relation to their coveted debut. The outfit's approach remains fairly original, though. Bridging the gap between two entirely different music realms, Disillusion combines the vulnerability of indie rock with the crushing heaviness of sludge metal. This unlikely pairing continues to work as a distinguishing feature of their oeuvre.

O'Brother are at their peak when they delve into direct, emotionally wrenching cuts. The infectiousness they emanate peppers the album's first half. “Parasitical” seethes with strong melodies and smooth transitions built upon distorted riffs and pounding bass lines, whereas “Context” integrates massive levels of distortion with a pulsating groove to splendid effect. While most tracks retain a perfect symbiosis of indie rock and sludge metal colored by a dash of post-hardcore, the densely textured “Path Of Folly” shows that the act's songcraft may be equally evocative even in its mellowed-out mode.

Longer numbers, which expectedly propel the latter half of the disc, reveal the group's progressive tendencies, often verging into post rock, psychedelic and ambient territories. “Oblivion” is commendable with its gradual descent into madness, but it's the title track that stands out. Patiently unraveling from dreamy soundscapes, through a menacing build-up halfway through, to a merciless series of violent outbursts, the song demonstrates the quintet's uncanny knack for crafting tense dynamics, later reaffirmed by the industrialized terror of “Absence.” The sole slip-up is the underwhelming ambient closer “Radiance” that fails to provide the album with a satisfying conclusion.

Singer and guitarist Tanner Merritt remains the outfit's biggest asset. His powerful, if tormented vocals play a pivotal role in forging an emotional bond with the listener. On many occasions he steps beyond his comfort zone, merging impassioned howls with demented screams and unsettling falsetto which would make Mike Patton proud. In fact, Merritt's admirably versatile performance is the catalyst for the album's most arresting moments. “Perilous Love” sees him going through various stylistic shifts at ease, enriching the sludgy noise-rock arrangement with an appropriately ferocious delivery. Inspired by a turbulent relationship and his father's struggle with memory loss, “Context” feels deeply personal and genuine, the attributes that apply to the majority of his work on the record.

There's a concept of duality inherent in Disillusion. The fragile is juxtaposed with the abrasive, the restrained with the bombastic, and the heavenly passages with apocalyptic walls of distortion. O'Brother are becoming more proficient at balancing these divergent facets of their output with every new release. Their sophomore album sounds more assured and dynamic than its predecessor, making steady progress both in terms of cohesion and inventiveness. The record's allure also lies in Merritt's intense vocals that lend the music its emotional core. Overall, Disillusion certainly lives up to high expectations, and the odds are that O'Brother will appear on the users' year-end list again soon.




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user ratings (128)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2013


7421 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

The album's streaming here:

http://soundcheck.wnyc.org/blogs/soundcheck-blog/2013/aug/13/check-ahead-obrother-disillusion/

Digging: Dope Body - Lifer

henryChinaski
August 19th 2013


2796 Comments


Damn I really need to check this out. Still haven't properly listened to Garden Window which is a shame because I actually own that record. Artwork of Disillusion is sweet. Nice read!

Digging: Empires - Orphan

johnnydeking29
August 19th 2013


9235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You own Garden Window?? Fuck you, I want to hear/own that so much :p
Awesome review Greg, I need to listen to this some more, but it seemed similar to what I think

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2013


28655 Comments


heres another bang that aint thrice BEE BOO BOO BEEP

Digging: Jessie Ware - Tough Love

Chrome54
August 19th 2013


10 Comments


Was hoping this was a review for a new album by the band Disillusion. Oh well. XD

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2013


10288 Comments


Nice, Greg. Awesome to see these guys get so big, especially since they're from my area. I'd probably like this record a lot-- their first one was good, but truly came alive on stage. These guys floored me when they opened for Thrice last year.

Really good review, though I will say the first paragraph has a rather inconsistent flow. This one line "you don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg." sticks out to me like a sore thumb, and I think it's because of the switch to the second-person. Overall, nice job here though.

minty901
August 19th 2013


2071 Comments


just discovered this band. bought death of day. look forwar moving through their discog

greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2013


7421 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Thanks guys. I've changed that bit, Jacob.

IslamicPenguins
August 19th 2013


72 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review man, but I find this a bit of a regression, with experimentalism really lacking, however it's still enjoyable and I'm wishing it will grow on me like their debut

ProjectFreak
August 19th 2013


1411 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Saw these guys on Thrice's farewell tour, and listened to Garden Window and their EP a few times. Didn't blow me away but they've definitely got potential, and I owe them a few more listens. Good work, Greg.

Digging: From Indian Lakes - Absent Sounds

greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2013


7421 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

A lot of potential, indeed. Though I really like this, I still think it could've been better. The same goes as regards their debut.

NightmareCinema16
August 19th 2013


2016 Comments


post metal/rock, huh? I might look into this, as I'm beginning to better appreciate this genre. Very good review, btw.

TheSupernatural
August 19th 2013


1242 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Garden Window was killer, I definitely need to get around to this.

Digging: Closure in Moscow - Pink Lemonade

MosesMalone
August 19th 2013


1836 Comments


fuckyesfuckyesfuckyes

CrownOfMagnets
August 19th 2013


2293 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I like this better than Garden Window for sure.

North0House2
August 19th 2013


5877 Comments


YOU LEFT ALL YOUR CHILDREN, YOU LEFT ALL YOUR CHILDREN FOR DEAD.

Digging: Ef - Ceremonies

heyadam
August 19th 2013


1715 Comments


That artwork though.

Digging: Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties - We Don't Have Each Other

BenedictVII
August 19th 2013


369 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'm excited to see how this translates live. I'm not sure what it is, but Merritt's voice has a power and versatility that hasn't been captured quite right in their recordings.

redrig
August 19th 2013


48 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

not as good as garden window or death of day, i am really sad, had huge expectations for this album. So i guess the aoty officialy goes to the upcoming MovMou.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2013


6205 Comments


Streaming this right now, it sounds awesome indeed.

Good catch Greg.

Digging: Seduced (AT) - The Proclamation



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