Review Summary: After 18 years, Disillusion have released another amazing prog record.
Disillusion’s first album, Back to Times of Splendor
is a classic amongst the vast catalogue of albums in the genre of progressive death metal. However, they have had difficulty living up to the standard that their debut brought with their next two albums. While the follow-ups are far from bad, they are nowhere near as good due to some unusual yet admirable choices in their musical direction. Fortunately, 18 years later, the band has finally released an album that has reached similar heights to their debut with, Ayam
Like most progressive metal bands, Disillusion likes some of their tracks exceeding the ten minute mark, and Ayam
has two of these 'epics'. The first of these is the opener, Am Abgrund
. It begins the album perfectly, where the intro slowly builds up until it eventually explodes with blast beats, subtle horns, and great harsh vocals. The cleans throughout the track provide some extremely catchy melodies. Furthermore, the riffs and solos throughout the eleven minutes are all engaging. All of this adds up to create an instant impact on the listener, keeping their interest for the rest of the album. The other 'epic' is Abide the Storm
has crushing riffs paired with some great horn sections, making the song's atmosphere sound vast and immense. The chorus implements more catchy clean vocals until it goes back to the heavy riff and horns filled verse with sinister screams. However, after the four minute mark, the song calms down, and Andy Schmidt’s skill at making excellent lead guitar melodies takes front and centre stage until it erupts into a cathartic climax with impressive solos and clean vocals. While both of these songs are long, they breeze past without you ever realising it, and it never feels like they need to be cut down either.
The rest of the tracklist is significantly shorter, ranging from four to seven minutes. Tormento
proves itself as another highlight due to being the heaviest cut by far. What makes this song though is the bridge, where it breaks down into an odd time signature with disjointed riffs and a captivating solo. The rest of the songs follow a more progressive rock approach, and Driftwood
is the best example of them. The melodic vocals are simply infectious, with the acoustic guitars and strings adding so much to the overall sound. Then, the song concludes with a momentous crescendo with colossal instrumentation and a captivating vocal performance. From the Embers
biggest positive is definitely the melodic guitar leads, and it is clear from the song's intro. While the song calms down after that, it then peaks with a skilful solo that has some grand and immense melodies. The closer, The Brook
, ends the album flawlessly. The sound starts off with a much more tranquil soundscape, with a focus on the piano and acoustic guitar melodies. However, the song gradually builds up and up until it culminates in a triumphant conclusion with powerful vocals, riffs, and solid melodies from the piano.
What draws Ayam
back for me is the fact that the first four tracks are much more diverse in their instrumentation, vocals, and atmosphere than the final four. The latter half of the album is all very melodic progressive rock tracks, therefore, making them hard to distinguish between at first few listens. However, they certainly do grow on you. This is slightly disappointing as the first half is full of instantly great songs, which, as a result, causes the album to become slightly less engaging than it should have been after the halfway point.
Back to Times of Splendor
is an almost impossible album to outdo due to its legacy alone, and while Ayam
does not quite reach it, it does get very close. Ayam
succeeds in the fact that it feels like a natural progression from their debut. It is separate and deals with different ideas while still keeping the same basic groundwork. It never repeats familiar ideas from their previous releases, making it stand as its own piece of art. This is a very strong release, and if you enjoy the band’s previous work or you just enjoy melodic and progressive metal, I cannot recommend this enough.