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Disillusion - Ayam review

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Band: Disillusion
Album: Ayam
Release date: November 2022

01. Am Abgrund
02. Tormento
03. Driftwood
04. Abide The Storm
05. Longhope
06. Nine Days
07. From The Embers
08. The Brook

Disillusion dropped their previous album one week after Fear Inoculum, following a gap in releases almost as long as Tool’s infamous hiatus. Thankfully, it’s been a much shorter wait to hear what they had in store for us next.

The Liberation was released during a peculiar glut of prog bands returning after long absences, but even with such solid competition, it was arguably the pick of that bunch. On the one hand, given Disillusion’s track record up to that point (including the epic debut record Back To The Times Of Splendor and the fantastic comeback single “Alea”), there shouldn’t have been any doubt over its expected quality; at the same time, with so little music from the band up to that point to go by, it was hard to know what to expect. Still, having had 3 years during which to savour The Liberation, listeners should have a clearer vision of what to look forward to with Ayam, which is a good thing, as it should leave them fully prepared to be blown away by this fantastic new offering.

Disillusion were at their strongest on The Liberation during the record’s longer songs, and Ayam provides further evidence of this knack at writing longer songs, as the album’s two tracks that break the 10-minute barrier are also arguably its standout cuts. The first of these, “Am Abgrund”, opens off the album in style; gradually building in volume and grandeur for the first couple of minutes, it then shifts gears, with drummer Martin Schulz (making his first appearance on a Disillusion record) pounding and blasting away. While bandleader Andy Schmidt brings out his more aggressive vocal style during the verses, the aforementioned blasts are combined with a far more majestic blend of clean vocal harmonies and trumpets in the chorus. From there, the song traverses multiple solos (something that feels like more of a prominent feature this time around), ominous chanting, cleaner atmospheric phases and more; it’s a bold, sprawling journey of an opening track that makes it immediately clear that Disillusion are not messing around here.

Similarly expansive is “Abide The Storm”, which once more exhibits Disillusion’s winning combination of muscular, aggression-tinged metal alongside deliciously evocative melody; the trumpets/horns (performed by guest Birgit Horn) are even more prominent on this track, working in tandem with lush acoustic guitars during the track’s midsection. The classic prog rock influences come through very clear in the latter half of this song, and the interplay between the vocals and guitars during these minutes is perhaps my favourite passage on the whole album; as much as Disillusion have had extreme metal tendencies since their inception, “Abide The Storm” really shows how much of their strengths lie in the more melodic end of the prog spectrum.

Now, the long songs are great as expected; where I feel Ayam has the edge on The Liberation is in the remainder of the tracklist. I liked the 3 mid-length songs on the previous record, but have had varying quibbles with each of them; in contrast, Ayam is an album that is consistently rewarding pretty much throughout. “Tormento” harkens back to both of the 2000s records with its bursts of intensity and dramatic vocals, but also looks forward during its tech-metal detour, while “From The Embers” features fierce interjections throughout an otherwise gloriously serene journey. Most of the other tracks really revel in the cleaner side of Disillusion, with plenty of acoustic guitar in “Driftwood”, “Nine Days” and “The Brook”; however, each song is richly dynamic and backs up the promising atmosphere with impactful hooks and climactic moments.

It's really hard to find much to fault about Ayam; there’s a couple of moments in some of the guitar solos that feel slightly off to me, but despite those snippets I would still say that each solos makes a positive contribution. Outside of that, this is a really rich, emotionally resonant, masterfully crafted album that marks an advancement from the already hugely impressive The Liberation; I prefer the ending of that album, as I don’t think “The Brook” has that sense of immense finality that “The Mountain” offered, but otherwise this is a clear step forward in my eyes. Disillusion have long held cult status thanks to the special place Back To The Times Of Splendor found in many hearts, but their comeback to date has shown them to be a band that has no need to rely on past accomplishments to justify their reputation, as they are excelling in their current form.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 9

Written on 02.11.2022 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 14   Visited by: 296 users
02.11.2022 - 21:22
Rating: 9
"The Quaker"
Yeeeheeeesss this makes me so happy. I'm sooo waiting for my preorder to arrive
02.11.2022 - 21:51
Rating: 8
A Nice Guy
I can't wait to hear this one, it sounds to me like it has the potential for being progressive metal AOTY!
02.11.2022 - 23:16
Rating: 8

The Liberation was Superb!! Can't wait for the new "Chef d'Oeuvre"!!!!
03.11.2022 - 09:19

One of the most underrated european bands of the last decade. Really waiting to get the full album.
03.11.2022 - 10:19
Rating: 10

Oh snappers!
AOTY 2022
03.11.2022 - 19:25
Rating: 10

Disillusion seems a change of direction & style for the superlative-deserving better... I preferred Obscure Infinity over them previously - but it feels like Disillusion morphed into perhaps a superior band! wtf, drastic lineup change or what, lol

Mike Patton influence apparent on 'Abide the Storm', no? and speak of the devil... or ageing vocal god, more accurately... Omne puts up his Dead Cross review! JINX

Edit: ok not just staccato cadence recalling Patton's sarcastically melodramatic phrasings, but like... early 90's Barney Greenway? or somebody influenced by Barney, idk... and clean vocal effect resembles Hail Spirit Noir's style of vocal layering? ok I'm thinking too much into this
No one can fend off 100 multi-colored Draculas
04.11.2022 - 04:33

Super keen for this, The Liberation was one of my most listened albums of the past few years, and BtToS is an all time favourite. Amazing to see such a successful comeback that is not leaning excessively on prior reputation.
04.11.2022 - 14:34
Rating: 9

Just discovered them... Glad to find something so unique!
05.11.2022 - 17:20

Those blasts in opening track combine with clean vocals. It's exactly like Lotus Eater
06.11.2022 - 08:48

I already listened to about half the album yesterday on the train, but your review really makes me hyped to (re)listen.
09.11.2022 - 16:21

Now, the long songs are great as expected; where I feel Ayam has the edge on The Liberation is in the remainder of the tracklist.

Funny, I'd actually swap Ayam and The Liberation in that sentence
I have more quibbles with the new album's short songs, especially Tormento.
12.11.2022 - 04:05

Really enjoying the last 3 songs the most with From the Embers a clear favourite.
15.11.2022 - 09:37
Rating: 9

This can only be fully tasted on a cold winter night, as it was yesterday, and it just clicked with me. i read about Katatonia vibes here and there, but for my humble taste it triggered some memories of old Dream Theater, a bit of Rotting Christ...and then a fair amount of Riverside... great atmosphere, well crafted songs and all instruments shine on their own... thanks for the review.
23.11.2022 - 12:48
Rating: 9

Damn, that's some fine album

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