Review: Disappearance – Disappearance

Disappearance is the next big thing from the Wisconsin’s Madison metalcore scene. This female fronted metalcore ensemble definitely deserves recognition, so here’s the exclusive, first ever review of Disappearance’s self-titled debut.

Taking an epic route, the album opens with ‘Intro’ a powerful orchestral arrangement driven by the hum of the bass and gnarly guitars and a drum rolling. Normally, an intro sets the tone for the rest of the album, and while deep and mysterious, what comes next is not exactly what you’d expect.

‘Taking Back Control’ is a fight song through and through. Angry lyrics touching on the subject of the oppressed fighting back against the oppressor are front and center, while the music itself shows a lot of variety. One moment the track is heavy and aggressive, the next it’s slow and melodic, showing a sort of duality in the band’s music. The standout feature is the prominent sound of the bass and, of course, the vocalist, Megan Orvold. Not only can she growl with the best of them, her clean vocals are beautiful and show a great deal of control and talent. Overall, ‘Taking Back Control’ is a solid opening to the album and shows what the band can do right out the gate.

‘Marionette’ picks up where ‘Taking Back Control’ left off in every department. The lyrics have a personal character of someone struggling through life, while the music kicks off heavy and fast, but then slows down quite a bit. Orvold’s clean vocals dominate much of the song with her harsh vocals playing more of a support role. Musically, the track is a mix of heavy riffing and a melodic leads that don’t deviate too much except for a slow semi-guitar solo midway through and a few breakdowns later in the track. Overall, ‘Marionette’ isn’t the best song on the album, but it has its high points such as Orvold’s blending of clean and harsh vocals and some nice riffing late in the track.

Continuing the formula of fast and heavy at the outset, ‘Look Away’ is a breakout track. Everything is beyond established expectations from the Orvold’s lyrics and vocal delivery to the standout sound of the bass and even the inclusion of a proper guitar solo. Honestly, one thing Disappearance has been missing so far on this album is a good guitar solo, but they’ve finally achieved this writer’s requirement.

After the awesome feel of ‘Look Away’ the album definitely felt like it was rising, but moving into ‘Feels So Right’ I was weary. Fortunately, this track continues the upward trend and is quite possibly my favorite track on the album.  The distant feel of the opening riff to the technical thrash meets power metal instrumental that bridges into a powerful riff strikes a chord of excellence. Orvold’s vocals are at their very best here; her emotional high notes tug at your heart strings and her growl sharpen the edges nicely. The only real complaint is the sudden fade out into the distant opening riff only to jump back into the main riff. This didn’t sit well, but Orvold’s highs over the shredding guitar solo more than made up for it. To say the least, ‘Feels So Right’ lives up to its name.

Just when it seemed that Disappearance was branching out from the established formula we come to ‘Nonsense.’ While not a bad track by any means, it’s pretty basic in terms of originality for the album. Orvold’s clean vocals are pleasing to the ear, but her spoken word section is just awkward. The instruments are just as enjoyable as ever, especially the lead guitar work, but it’s not a knockout like the previous two tracks. The same can be said of ‘Your Reign Ends Today.’ Fortunately, this track has a pretty cool atmospheric solo section and the fairy tale inspired lyrics are a nice change of pace, especially towards the end when the chorus features a dual harmony.

Opening with a thumping bass line, ‘Phoenix’ kicks off from the right foot. The pop-like vocal melodies are a pleasant surprise and lead riff really stands out with a strong metalcore style. This track is definitely on the heaviest and has some great melodic sections. As with ‘Your Reign Ends Today,’ the lyrics are a breath of fresh air, for the utilization of the  characteristics of the legendary phoenix give more of a “walking tall” feel rather than a “I’ve had enough and I’m taking a stand”  that we’ve experienced on previous tracks. Overall, this is one of the strongest tracks on the album and worthy of being the first or second single. In fact, if you listen to one song by Disappearance make sure it’s ‘Phoenix.’

Easily the most musically versatile track on the album, ‘Poison’ is all over the place in a good way. Every element that makes Disappearance stand out is present here. To better explain, the music is a blend of technicality and atmosphere that comes together perfectly; the bass has a unique sound that will get stuck in your head and the riffing will have you banging your head, while Orvold’s vocals draw you into a trance.  The only real complaints are the awkwardness of a spoken word track behind Orvold’s vocals at the beginning and a breakdown mid-song as it really interrupts the song and feels like it could have been cut without issues since the breakdown is preceded by a fadeout and leads into a riff that revs up from nothing.

There’s nothing that can be said about ‘No Sand’ that hasn’t been said. It’s fast, heavy, and melodic. It puts a premium on the clean vocals and sheer heaviness. A solid song, it’s hampered by a couple of awkward breakdowns that interrupt the flow a bit too much and make the song choppy. Of course, this is a metalcore signature, so it’s definitely not something metalcore diehards are going to have a problem with – metal fans on the other hand might.

The album closer, ‘Stand Trial’ plays on the strengths of the previous tracks, but falls a bit short. Though the riffing is heavy it’s lost its appeal after eleven tracks. The saving grace of this tune is the melodic guitars and the subtle use of synths in the background and an eventual fadeout of the band that leads into a classical piano, thus bringing the album full circle.

Disappearance’s self-titled debut is a solid record, there’s no doubt about it. They’re a talented band with a powerful female vocalist at the helm and some great ideas. Their greatest strength is their versatility, but their weakness is utilizing it. There are definitely some standout tracks that deserve a great deal of praise, but too many songs feel the same in terms of composition. A major point of criticism was the introduction, for although it was a cool, intriguing piece of music it felt hollow until the very end of the album due to the lack of synths until the last few minutes. In many ways, it’s misleading, but forgivable. That being said, this was a solid debut album and is definitely worth your money. 8/10




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