The Liberation

very poor


by Observer EMERITUS
September 3rd, 2019 | 158 replies

Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: “An empty shell within a maze straying back and forth”

The Liberation was supposed to be another one of those albums.

For context and this-very-week relevance, Disillusion’s first long player in thirteen years is supposed to be for Disillusion fans what many Tool fans have so recently found in Fear Inoculum (surprisingly): The Comeback Of The Decade, the stupidly high standards of hype being manifested into a product of true greatness, or let’s just be fucking real here-- actual proof that a favorite band still “has it” after more than a decade of absence. Yeah, Germany’s Disillusion was supposed to be another Tool success story, and we were promised by both band-leader Andy Schmidt and the band’s label, Prophecy Recordings, themselves, that this would be a true comeback, going as far as to describe The Liberation as the “logical stylistic and lyrical successor to Back To Times Of Splendor" in the album’s press release.

So what happened? When I listen to this I get the same feeling from when I first heard Dark Tranquillity’s We Are The Void nine years ago. That album followed 2007’s colossal Fiction, which many and myself rank among that Swedish band’s best-- or even the best of all of melodic death metal, actually. Void features much of the same formula as Fiction and 2005’s Character before it, except it is just plain worse, both being completely derivative and uninspired throughout its length. Void came three years after Fiction, yet here in 2019, The Liberation has come thirteen years after 2006’s experimental sidestep in Gloria and a baffling, whopping sixteen years after progressive-melodic-death-metal masterpiece Back To Times Of Splendor, its true predecessor and inspiration, the primary source for Disillusion’s committed fanbase.

Like Void compared to Fiction, The Liberation contains much of the same progressive melo-death “gist” of Splendor, yet none of the charisma, mind-possessing melodies, and proper song placement that should be coupled with vital, pivotal album pacing. To be frank, it’s simply a bad album trying desperately hard to be an amazing one, to be another Splendor in look, feel, and execution. But it’s just not. Like, not at all. Second pre-release song “Wintertide” tells it all: The album’s best hook of “And in the night-time longing and wintertide memories [...}” is suffocated and buried inside this twelve-minute epic, the first of three to be found on the album, that stops and stutters at the oddest moments and runs at a confusingly low tempo. Honestly, this song would be so much better if shit were kicked up a notch, the bridge curved a bit and, well, just placed better, and the run time, due to a tempo increase, were brought down to nine or ten minutes.

I make a big deal about “Wintertide” in particular because it’s sadly The Liberation’s best song, easily. Next follows first pre-release song “The Great Unknown”, a track that was meant to excite the fan base and announce that Disillusion had finally returned back when it was debuted in mid-July, but as a song it’s fairly weak and the chorus is just forgettable. I had hoped this shorter cut (in comparison to the epics) would work better in context of the album, but it really doesn’t at all. The musicianship is serviceable, but only just that. It then leads to “A Shimmer In The Darkness”, which gets props for having a unique Middle-Eastern vibe in its guitar lines, if only for variation’s sake. This track’s rolling melody reminds me of parts of 2006’s Gloria, and while an interesting song in its own right, there is no reason to have it drag on for seven minutes. Lyrically, this finds our album’s character drowning in a sea of woe and “catastrophe”, always, which is supposed to be the proper lead in for The Liberation’s title song and second epic.

Like “Wintertide”, “The Liberation” is a twelve-minute cut that contains what many Disillusion epics up until now have always contained-- a growled, heady verse, then a more mellow, catchy chorus, and then a multi-part bridge that circles back on itself and returns to the chorus section. This one in particular, however, is as close as Disillusion have ever come to ripping themselves off, and by that I mean, as The Liberation’s title track, I can’t shake the feeling that this is just a diet version of Splendor’s amazing title track. It’s got all those elements, yet weaker, and it’s placed in a way that directly recalls the latter in an eerily similar fashion, bordering on plagiarism. In context of the album, this ripping off of styles in the title track may have worked better if “A Shimmer In The Darkness” had set it up more fittingly, or if the forgettable “Time To Let Go” didn’t follow it, but whatever the case is, as the album’s centerpiece, it’s a complete failure.

Conceptually and lyrically, it wouldn’t have worked, but 2016’s one-off single “Alea” would have been a better way to close The Liberation because as it stands, final epic “The Mountain” is absolute garbage. It’s another twelve-minute suite that prods on at a slow-ish pace for four minutes and then cuts into a quiet bit that features this odd, wailing horn part with Schmidt crooning in the background for another four minutes. Then, the final four minutes of the song decide to get serious; it’s like the band suddenly remembers that itself and the audience are still there and that they need to close this mess off. A pseudo-epic guitar solo then fires away, but by this point in the track, it’s too late. “The Mountain” is a lost cause, much like The Liberation itself.

So, yeah, a lost cause is hardly another Tool success story, and while fans may like The Liberation, somehow, or at the very least may like a few songs from it, this stands as a horrible sequel to one of my favorite albums of all time. It contains many of the same progressive and melodic elements from Splendor, but the charisma and full-throttle momentum of that masterpiece just aren’t here to be found in any way whatsoever. Maybe sixteen years is too long of a time to recall prior inspirations, or maybe Disillusion’s notorious line up changes had something to do with it; but whatever the case, this one goes down as the disappointment of the year. Actually, given the time span involved, The Liberation is The Disappointment Of The Decade and provides ample evidence that some follow-ups should never be attempted. A total failure, well-intended or otherwise, but a total failure all the same.

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user ratings (111)

Comments:Add a Comment 
September 3rd 2019


impending backlash

Curious what the final average will be. Some metal 'zines seem to dig it but hot damn this is nowhere near splendor, which is a classic album for me.

Glad we are back up.

September 3rd 2019


wow dang

September 3rd 2019


super disappointing if true

September 3rd 2019


nay nay nay nay nay this is not how its supposed to work

September 3rd 2019


Garbage all around. I do like Wintertide's chorus a lot though.

September 3rd 2019


I'm yet to really get into Splendor, but I enjoyed the 2 singles off this quite a bit.

Really good review, even if I can't see this being close to a 1.5 you argued your points well.

Demon of the Fall
September 3rd 2019


Album Rating: 2.0

Damn, I'm hoping this is completely inaccurate. Interesting that you mentioned that press release quote, as it was definitely the catalyst for some major hype in some quarters (hi!), possibly setting them up for an even bigger fall if it doesn't meet expectations.

Time will tell...

September 3rd 2019


Album Rating: 3.4

Weird. I've never really heard either of their other albums, but I didn't mind this one (besides some questionable clean singing in places).

September 3rd 2019


Yeah, the cleans are what put me off Splendor, just strange and annoying at times.

September 3rd 2019


Album Rating: 2.5

I am VERY upset OP

September 3rd 2019


I pre-ordered the album so if it does turn out to be a stinkfest it's gonna be one of the year's major disappointments...

September 3rd 2019


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Man I will agree with you that it isn't on the same plane as BtToS but you're also being extremely harsh. Disappointment of the decade? Back off the hyperbole, dude.

September 3rd 2019


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

If it makes anyone feel better, I've been a huge BtToS fanboy since it came out and I found this album a worthy successor. My only real complaint is that "A Shimmer In The Darkness” and “Time To Let Go” are too long and repetitive. Everything else is great and I think The Mountain is a perfect closer.

September 3rd 2019


Fair enough panzer, but since I heard bttos in 2009, I've been waiting for a decade, so for me it definitely is my biggest disappointment.

September 3rd 2019


Album Rating: 3.0

can't say I'm surprised honestly, and I absolutely adore BtToS

September 3rd 2019


I liked Alea a lot, but the two singles for this album were really disappointing. the second one sounded like a failed fan service to my ears, and the first one was just...meh. I'll still give it a full listen when it comes out, not expecting much tho

September 3rd 2019


Album Rating: 3.5

Dude, it's gonna be ok.

Woah Wintertide is GREAT.

September 3rd 2019


Album Rating: 4.0

I highly disagree with a lot of the things said on this specific review (I have a review copy myself). This whole record is a long and ethereal music journey. The only song I wasn't necessarily crazy about was the super long and dragged out title track. The Mountain is goddamn stellar.

Take this review with a grain of salt, as this reviewer gave 1.5 and 1.0's to many objectively impeccable records (Mastodon - Crack the Skye, Devin Townsend - Empath, Ne Oblivicaris - Citadel, Between the Buried and Me - Colors etc...)

September 3rd 2019


impeccable record

choose one

September 3rd 2019


here we go.

Noticed you guys dropped your ratings.

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