Review by Daniel for Disentomb - Sunken Chambers of Nephilim (2010)
I first noticed Disentomb whilst browsing through a Terrorizer magazine back in 2010. I remember being really excited to see an advertisement for an Australian brutal death metal band as they’re few & far between these days. There was a nice glossy picture of the album cover & everything looked very professional. I immediately put Disentomb on my list of bands to check out. And I fully intended to but as it turns out I didn’t get around to it until a couple of years later when I saw their name on the list of supports for the Cannibal Corpse Australian Torture tour alongside Perth-based technical death metallers Entrails Eradicated. After I’d bought my ticket to the Sydney show I had no excuse not to give them a run.
Disentomb vocalist Jordan Philp & guitarist Jake Wilkes were childhood friends growing up in Brisbane, Queensland. They became interested in metal music together through albums like Morbid Angel’s “Formulas Fatal To The Flesh” & Napalm Death’s “Punishment In Capitals” when they were around 11 or 12 before being lured into the more brutal end of the death metal spectrum. The idea of putting together their own band was discussed in late 2008 with Jake suggesting that they name themselves after a song title from Disgorge’s “Cognitive Lust Of Mutilation” demo (1992). Eventually Disentomb began writing original material in March 2009 & wasted no time in putting together some songs for a promo CD which they released in August 2009. The promo (featuring the tracks “Subterranean Burial” & “Gutted” which were both rerecorded for the album) showed quite a bit of promise & its blend of speed & brutality immediately interested me however I couldn’t quite get past the sloppiness of the performance. I felt that if the band tightened up & worked on their precision that the debut album could be something really worth listening to as I really liked the sound & concept.
Regardless, the two-track promo certainly did the trick as they received immediate interest & signed a single album deal with Amputated Vein Records within two months of its release. The next year was spent writing material for the album & “Sunken Tomb Of Nephilim” was released in November 2010. Italian artist Marco Hasmann designed the cover art based on a concept the band had come up with. It depicts two demons tearing a human to shreds in a particularly hellish environment & is fairly standard fare for the brutal death metal sub-genre. Having said that, it really does sum up the lyrical theme of the album which combines your typical gore-inspired material with anti-religious themes. After reading the lyrics to some of these tracks it becomes pretty obvious that God & his buddies are not on Disentomb’s Christmas card list.
The first thing I noticed when I cranked the album on my car stereo was that the overall production is very different from the promo (which was apparently recorded in their rehearsal room using mobile equipment). It’s much more compressed & lacks the brightness of the promo. The guitar sound in particular comes out quite muddy. I certainly like the sound on the promo much better. The bands style hasn’t progressed much in the year since the promo either which isn’t really too surprising when you consider that they had still only been together for such a short time. There are no bold attempts at anything too original but that’s not usually a huge factor for the brutal death metal audience as experimentation can often be seen as “selling out”. I can detect strong Disgorge, Suffocation & Defeated Sanity influences & there is no doubt that Disentomb are right up there from a brutality point of view. They spend the majority of the album blasting you into submission but still include some slower slam style sections here & there.
Unfortunately the technical deficiencies that were evident on the promo are just as evident here. Jake & bassist Tom “Pox” Joice are in a constant battle to stay in time with drummer Henri Sison during the faster & more technical sections. I don’t like to be too harsh but I honestly don’t think Henri was up to playing this material yet & that’s particularly noticeable during periods of prolonged blasting where things get very messy & out of control. The slower crunchier parts are very heavy & I can really get into them so I’d like to see more of those parts in future. Jord’s vocals are exceptionally effective over those sections too. Death vocals don’t come much more deep & gutteral than these & I don’t mind Jord’s style. Don’t try to make out a single word of his lyrics though because you will be unsuccessful. Tom’s bass performance is generally pretty decent without being terribly ambitious. The compressed nature of the production makes it difficult for him to shine here but he certainly fills out the bottom end. The sludgy guitar sound & the sloppiness of the drumming don’t do guitarist Jake any favours but he performs admirably enough too. Chunky palm-muted & tremolo-picked US death metal riffs are the order of the day with occasional use of pinch harmonics. I think a few guitar solos wouldn’t go astray to break things up a bit. It’s difficult to pick out highlight tracks as the combination of the compressed production & the chaotic performances ensure that the songs don’t really stand out from each other too much & are also not terribly memorable.
There is certainly plenty of promise shown on “Sunken Tomb Of Nephilim” but I don’t see myself giving it too many repeat listens. It might be interesting to see how Disentomb develop over their next couple of releases though & they certainly put on a brutal live show.