Review by Daniel for Disillusion - Back to Times of Splendor (2004) Review by Daniel for Disillusion - Back to Times of Splendor (2004)

Daniel Daniel / February 25, 2019 / 0

Occasionally during my journey through a lifetime of metal exploration I’ll come across a release that puts me well & truly outside of my comfort zone but is simply done so well that I can’t help but let my defences down & the 2004 debut album from German progressive metal outfit Disillusion is one such record. You’ll rarely find such an ambitious & fully realised debut effort & could be forgiven for mistaking it for the culmination of a decade or more of studio experience so I wasn’t surprised to discover that Disillusion had been around in one form or another for a full decade by this stage in their evolution.

I first encountered “Back To Times Of Splendor” in 2009 & recall being seriously impressed however I haven’t felt the need to return to it until now & are very pleased to find that my feelings haven’t changed over the years. It’s charms are built on a foundation of melodic death metal & you’ll easily be able to pick up the influence of bands like At The Gates however the lengthy track durations & more expansive arrangements see the album residing firmly in the progressive metal camp with Opeth being the main point of reference. The consistent use of synthesizers really fills out Disillusion’s sound & gives it a more epic feel although I do think the album could have done with a touch more dynamic range as a result. The execution & performances are quite brilliant while the production is more than suitable for a progressive metal release with its clarity & power providing the material with the full scope to dig its teeth in. This isn’t the most technical of progressive metal releases but there’s an intelligence & professionalism to the song structures that again hints at a seasoned veteran of the scene.

The vocal delivery of front man Vurtox isn’t the most stunningly charismatic you’ll hear with his hooks being more subtle & veering away from your typically light-weight melodeath cheese towards a warmer & more rewarding outcome that may not knock you for six but is memorable enough to prick your ears up. His style seems to be a hybrid of the quirky ADD-fueled rants of System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian & the clean gothic musings of My Dying Bride’s Aaron Stainthorpe with the odd death metal outburst giving the album the required level of underground appeal. The vocals aren’t the main focal point of Disillusion’s sound though in my opinion. Their appeal seems to be centred more around building a big sonic soundscape full of classy arrangements & pristine execution & if that was their ambition then they’ve succeeded in no uncertain terms.

“Back To Times Of Splendor” is an imposing way to start a career & it’s easy to see why it had such an impact on the unsuspecting underground. It’s very well thought out & full of substance with an attention to detail that never allows it to overstep the mark in regards to melodic extravagance & this is one of the main reasons that it appeals to me when so many melodeath-based releases do not. I’m surprised that we haven’t seen Disillusion go on to bigger & better things in the subsequent years however if this release ends up being the band’s crowning glory then they’ve achieved heights that most budding young prog-heads will never be in a position to boast about.

For fans of Opeth, At The Gates & In Mourning.

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