Disbelief
Spreading the Rage
Nuclear Blast
2004
C



it’s been a long time coming, but German death metal band Disbelief have, with their fifth full-length Spreading the Rage, finally seen a proper release in the United States. In fact, the prohibitive expense in getting their records in the United States was the main issue regarding the band, sometimes overshadowing the glowering metal dirges found on each slab of reflective plastic. But all of that, hopefully, is over now. The group has signed on with Nuclear Blast to distribute their records in the United States. And, for now, we can merely focus on the music.

It’s hard to believe, but after their thirteen years of existence, the group may have made, their finest album to date here. Spreading the Rage takes the industrial/atmospheric tendencies of 2001’s Worst Enemy and goes back to basics—shortening these items to digestable nuggets of sound working in concert with the existing song. Instead of the meandering nature of their earlier work, Disbelief seems focused on the task at hand: creating crushing and powerful blasts of death metal.

Far from being rushed into the studio like Shine, the group has had at least two years to refine their sound. And it shows. The album is a focused thirteen tracks that clocks in at nearly an hour. Luckily, despite the sprawl, every track seems necessary. But not all of them work. Take “To The Sky”, for instance. Here the group settles into a nice groove in the early moments of the song, but seems unwilling to give it up. The lack of change throughout the song is easily a stopping point when there are other gems to recommend here. There are also some general complaints to note (cf. the production). The guitars frequently sound muddy (which may be the point, considering the album cover?), the guitars never really achieve a very clear tone and infrequently Karsten Jager’s vocals sit too low in the mix to generate the impact that they undoubtedly are trying to inflict.

That being said, the final three songs of the album redeem most criticisms that one could level at the album. “Drown” features a strumming guitar underneath the distorted slow burn of the riffs, while Jager seems to stretch out a bit into nearly recognizable vocal territory. The vocals are further cleared up on the cover of Killing Joke’s “Democracy”. The group honors the fire competently enough, but it’s no match for the emotional weight of the closer “Back to Life”, which closes the album with a beautifully lumbering tone and a promise for much more from the group.

While it’s unlikely to win new fans to the genre, it remains a shame that Disbelief seems to go ignored, due to their German heritage. Undoubtedly if they were peddling the same wares in Sweden, it’d be a different story. Luckily, with this distribution deal with Nuclear Blast, the group goes international. And, for fans of death metal, to stunning effect.



Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2004-05-27
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