Desolation – The Stone Oracles – 4.5/5
Sweden gave us Opeth, Germany gave us Disillusion, and now good ol’ England has delivered to us Desolation. Loosely taking progressive/melodic black metal they have created something unique, something beyond what we would normally expect, and produced something to behold. Only really held back by its sub-par production this nevertheless is an artist that deserves its place on a pedestal besides these champions.
Whilst nothing is done poorly here, this is very much a guitar driven piece. Featuring dual harmonies working together to provide complex yet addictive riffs, they meander through Opeth inspired soft melodic passages, unafraid of the acoustic guitar, working with the clean vocals to create an interesting break from the more upbeat riff’s and growls. Solos are used sparingly but where they are used you can expect a work of genius. Slow, melodic and emotional yet with all the fire you could want, nothing about them feels generic or unoriginal.
The vocals vary from the mid-ranged to high pitched growls, bridging the gap between Dark Tranquility and Wintersun, they add to the atmosphere by providing another layer to their sound. Frequently finding themselves bouncing to a cleaner tone only serves to provide yet another means to draw attention, and works well at keeping the sound interesting. They also have no problems taking a step back, and indeed, frequently do allowing the rest of the instrumentation to carry the music forward. Even the drums are easily heard doing more than simply keeping a beat, and frequently add fill sections, varying the pace and aggression between sections.
But as was previously said, the sub-par production hinders this album, and is the main reason for it not attaining a perfect score. Whilst everything is clearly heard, it all feels a little thin, barren, it’s cleaner than needed. When black metal utilises this it creates a cold atmosphere, but here it sounds like its trying to be upbeat and provide a warmth without this thick tone. The bass could really do with a more notable part and it’s a real shame that such a minor oversight detracts from an otherwise excellent album.
No longer when I see Opeth get given recognition beyond what they deserve am I limited to just suggesting Disillusion, this band has not only for me reached the level of creativity and musicianship showed by the genre giants (Opeth), but surpassed anything they have produced. If you are willing to take the time to become accustomed to the underdeveloped production, which will become less noticeable, then prepare for perhaps one of the better of my discoveries.
Highlights: Enlightened Oblivion, Wraith, Legacy
By T. Bawden