[Prophecy Productions, 2022]
Intro: Dimitris Kaltsas
Disillusion were formed in 1994 as the creative vehicle of Andy Schmidt, composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist. After three EPs in which the young musicians were searching for their sound, Jens Maluschka (drums) and Rajk Barthel (guitar) joined the band and in 2004 they released their debut titled Back to Times of Splendor, an original mix of progressive metal and melodic death metal. Two years later, Gloria impressed for the unprecedented choice to mix progressive metal with industrial, which in fact no one else has done since with such artistic success.
Well-deserved success never came for Schmidt’s band, hence Disillusion went into hiatus for nearly a decade and returned with a new line-up with the excellent The Liberation in 2019. Ayam came out this year to convince everyone that they still have something to say after all these years, and that it is never too late for success. Let’s hope so…
Disillusion continue to walk their own lonely path to recognition and once again offer a great example of their identity
The answers, regarding the quality constants of a band that managed to leave their own touch on progressive heavy sound with two early releases, but did not record for a long time, were given with an extremely emphatic momentum a few years ago. The Liberation was a triumphant return, worthy of enthusiastic reviews for Disillusion and their own trend in progressive sound, which has lost its glamor and vanguard a long time ago.
Listeners familiar with the Germans’ sound from the days of their first two EPIC records (Back to Times of Splendor and Gloria) were already aware of their intentions to re-approach a heavier aspect of their sound through The Liberation, with innovations and elements of eclecticism dominating and highlighting their talent to develop their ideas into complete compositions, building albums with an identity in a microcosm of their own. And if 13 years had passed between Gloria (2006) and The Liberation (2019), this is a detail on which the mastermind behind Disillusion, Andy Schmidt, seems to have worked with particular fervor, as he bridged the two faces of the band in a unique way and restored them to a rightfully earned place in the modern scene.
So, three years after their dynamic return, they follow the same path, and the destination is their new album, Ayam. Already from the similarities of the two covers, and the sonic similarities, the comparison with The Liberation is obvious and expected. But how does it manage to stand the comparison with an excellent album? First, they safely continue the exploration of their sonic wealth, with a clear reference to the continuation of their previous record and in almost sixty minutes they undertake the mapping of a familiar, but diverse ocean. With the European progressive hard sound aesthetic, Disillusion have an undeniable ability to combine catchy riffs with awkward transitions, extremely heavy parts with atmospheric endings, and overall clever songwriting. Modern sound, clean production, use of brass, strings, etc. and generally a rich result.
From the very first impressions of Am Abgrund, Disillusion show their moods from the get go. This eleven-minute composition includes all those elements that are prevalent in their releases, with a variety of vocals, dynamic tones, solos, heavy on the verge of their debut. And then, simply listening to the rest of the compositions that follow, the value of the new release is enhanced. Even a touch towards the unique Gloria (an underrated album after all) with Tormento perhaps adds another element to their progressive ascent. And if perhaps a passage there or elsewhere reminds of something, this ultimately becomes a part of the sound of Disillusion, who have managed to build a personal identity with the persistence and peculiarity of their style.
With Driftwood they follow more atmospheric passages, while with Abide the Storm they offer perhaps their most characteristic moment, an amalgamation of the band’s recognizable elements, with alternating moods and riffs succeeding one another, but also a more melodic approach to contributes to the balance of the song.
All in all, Disillusion manage to follow up a Liberation-like triumph that preceded it with an equally successful attempt to tap into the sound envisioned from the beginning by Andy Schmidt and assisted by the performance and compositional skills the other band members. Ayam is an album with a rich sound, progressive references, crystal clear production and is added to a series of three albums that reach the peaks that this particular genre has not known for a long time. From here on, there is no point in comparison it with Liberation. What matters is stating and confirming Disillusion’s steady, qualitative and perhaps lonely path towards wide recognition. Ayam is one of the best releases of the year and the ease with which this happens is a testament to its value.
8.5 / 10
It seems that since their comeback, Disillusion are moving at an acquired speed. The Liberation, after that highly experimental Gloria, was the first sample of Andy Schmidt’s revamped artistic vehicle. The new form of the band chose to leave the past behind and follow another – equally interesting – path towards progressive metal. Ayam expands on the style of its predecessor, and has a more complete form. Between the hard metal outbursts that urge you to align with their intensity and the atmospheric parts that invite you to get lost in their abyss, an instrumental mood permeates the above and acts as the binding factor. The years of confinement imposed by the pandemic have instilled an angry expression that dives into unbridled melancholy to set the band’s sound. The most important thing is that the band seems determined to deliver their greatest work yet. The perfect production and including each track bear Disillusion’s characteristic stamp.
9 / 10