The lineup may change from time to time, but Denmark’s Illdisposed keep rolling right along. The quintet have been offering competent, occasionally magnificent – like 2011’s goth-tinged There Is Light (But Not For Me) – death metal for more than 25 years at a remarkably regular clip.
Their latest, Grey Sky Over Black Town, is the band’s 14th studio album, and fourth in just five years, which is the kind of productivity that is almost unheard of these days. And though there is a workman-like quality to Grey Skies, which perhaps should come as no surprise, it has more than its share of resonant moments that make it a worthy addition to the band’s extensive library.
Though it starts with almost black metal ferocity as “Again” blazes away out of the gate, Grey Skies settles into a serious groove of, well, grooves on “Your Darkest Son” and rides that much of the way through, with variations on the velocity keeping things from getting too comfortable or predictable. “I Tried To Live” has an anthemic feel to it with its thundering hooks whereas “The After All” is more grim and dramatic and “Setting Sail” has a riffy briskness that recalls Clayman-era In Flames. Despite the piano that leads off, “My Flesh Is Sealed” harks back to the opening track with its black metal-like vigor, as does “I’m Not One.” The momentous closing track throws a little bit of everything into the mix, including some more piano strains to send the song off.
Looming above it all, no matter what the band is doing, is frontman/founder/lone original member Bo Summer and his commanding low-end growl. His nickname isn’t “Subwoofer” for nothing. But the band build decent, likable songs around it and Summer doesn’t go out of his way to make things any uglier than they have to be.
Illdisposed could easily be one of the most brutal bands out there if they wanted to be, but they opted for something more palatable, which would seem to be a wise choice. Grey Skies is certainly plenty heavy, especially with Tue Madsen’s dense, bombastic production, but there’s plenty more to grab you than mere heft. The band’s workaholic ethos has made them pretty good at what they do, and if they can keep from burning out, we can probably expect more of the same fairly soon.
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