Review Summary: An excellent industrial album, a farewell album for the fans, with an ode to their legacy, and a step forward into a new direction.
Without going into a long back history of Circle Of Dust, this album was the last album released by the band. Like many industrial acts, this essentially, is not a band, but a one man show who wrote, performed, and recorded the entire album alone. The man behind the scenes is Scott Albert. Disengage was the final album released under the pseudonym Circle of Dust. Afterwards, he changed his name to Klayton and began releasing albums under the name Celldweller.
All of that aside, Disengage is a fine example of a band transitioning and transforming their sound. Originally Circle of Dust, was much in the vein of Ministry, with very heavy thrash guitars, loaded with sampling, and interspersed keyboards in the material. The driving force, was the heavy guitars and Scott Albert’s raspy singing carrying the music along. However, in Disengage, he began to rely more on the keyboard/programming element of the music, toning down the metal edge, and pursuing a much more commercial sound, with very solid clean vocals, and huge hooks.
Throughout the album, you have songs that sound like they may have fit on some of the older, heavier albums, along with material, that was fresh, new, and brought forth a more intuitive sense of almost ‘pop-industrial’, more akin to what Linkin Park started out like or even some of NIN’s songs like “Perfect Drug’. The reliance on a more techno feel and having strong catchy vocals essentially was the forerunner into what his new project Celldweller became. This album bridged the gap in an effective way, giving his audience a chance to enjoy the heavier material, while acclimating them to his new direction.
The album opens with a very upbeat techno sounding song, ‘Waste of Time’, with a huge drum sound, and very little guitar. He slowly brings in some heavy riffing, while keeping the big drums and keyboard sound in place. The song culminates in a very catchy chorus, grabbing the listener from the get go and easing them into his new sound. He follows up with a song, ‘Refractor’, which essentially starts out with a very thrashy guitar and drum beat, while completely changing gears, into a much lighter, keyboard focused chorus. By this point, his change in style becomes very obvious.
The only song that truly relies on the darker, heavier feel of his older material is ‘Blindeye’, with spacey keyboards, matched with a very heavy guitar sound and very aggressive vocal style. The only thing that holds this album back from being an absolute perfect example of industrial-metal, is the instrumentals, that should have been much shorter interludes. There are several songs that are simply arpeggio style keyboards, with simple tribal drum-beats, that seem to go nowhere. They simply repeat themselves for several minutes, only to end with no real reason to have them on the album, other than to fill up time.
However, all being said, this Circle of Dust album, is perhaps the most accessible, and a great first choice for a listen for someone who has never experienced them. Circle of Dust, was perhaps, one of the finest examples of industrial metal in the entire scene at the time, with far more depth and intelligence than most of the acts in the genre. The album is filled with killer guitar riffs, cool keyboards, and absolutely great vocals. It would be hard to say, ‘if you like ‘so and so’ you will like this. Circle of Dust never sounded quite like anyone else and Disengage is no exception. This album will appeal to the audiences looking for industrial with metal edge, while still not turning away those who are into a lighter, more pop oriented techno feel.
Scott Albert (Klayton) went on to create an extremely commercial version of alternative/techno (Celldweller), garnering spots on A-list movie trailers, many video game titles, and themes for TV shows. However, his later material does not have the edge or creativity shown on this album.