Released: 2009, Coroner Records
It’s funny to go back and listen to the early progenitors of a style. The semi-maligned genre that we know today as melodic death metal was once one of the hottest properties in metal. Back in the ‘90s and early 00’s, it seemed that any band with twin melodic guitars and growled vocals could get a record contract and release an album. One of those bands just happened to be Italy’s Disarmonia Mundi. Led by guitarist/mastermind Ettore Rigotti, the band managed to do one better than their peers – they self-released their debut album and somehow managed to make it sound as good, if not better than some of the “professional” recordings being done at the same time.
Of course, the band has gone on to see significantly more success in the last decade, and it seems that the time is right to revisit their debut, NEBULARIUM – handily packaged with a bonus CD of B-sides pulled throughout their career, called THE RESTLESS MEMOIRS. It’s immediately apparent upon listening to NEBULARIUM that this band was going to be something special. The album is packed with twisting, almost progressive passages a la Opeth, but never veers off into dull shoe-gazing. Instead, the progressive music is tempered with razor-sharp riffs, hooks, and heaviness that Opeth rarely achieves anymore (although they did back then).
Vocally, Benny Chinto turns in a vicious tour-de-force, switching from screams to growls to clean vocals with ease. His is a charismatic performance that could have been star-making if he did not inexplicably disappear into demo-land shortly after this album was released.
As impressive as the vocals are, the music is even more so. Rigotti crafted an amazing buffet of metal that covers all of the bases of melodic death without openly copying anyone. Take one listen to “Mechanichell” and any doubts will be pushed aside. Simply put, NEBULARIUM stands as a landmark in the genre, brimming with ideas and energy. It does make me sad however, to hear how little the genre has progressed or changed in the years since its release.
As for THE RESTLESS MEMOIRS, it’s a treat, pure and simple. Recorded from 1999 – 2006, each of the six songs is easily as good as the songs that made the band’s three albums. The first five songs are all blazing with creativity and energy and include what is perhaps Speed Strid’s best performance since Soilwork’s THE CHAINHEART MACHINE. The only true oddity is the last song, “Ghost Song” which is a mostly acoustic campfire song that doesn’t quite fit in with the rest. It’s still awesome though.
As this is my first exposure to Disarmonia Mundi, I am thrilled that they chose to re-release their debut in such a great package. It’s simply a great album, and if it were eligible, it would definitely make my Top 10 for 2009.