Back to Times of Splendor

Sometimes you just know if an album is going to be good. Based on Disillusions The Porter EP, I just had a hunch this German three man project was on to something special. And they are.Essentially rooted in melodic death metal, Disillusion add so many nuances of other genres, to pigeon hole them is unfair, and whereas say Farmakon and Elenium have tried and failed to incorporate progressive elements into melodeath’s sound, Disillusion have done it triumphantly and so much more. With the austere duel atmospherics and lengthy artistry of Opeth, the progressive AOR based nuances of Rush, and the delicate intricacies of early Dark Tranquility, Disillusion have created a masterpiece of modern metal that no metal fan should miss.

With stunningly composed riffs, introspective injections of orchestration and a dual vocal approach featuring some of the most unique clean vocals I’ve heard, Back To Time of Splendor, never ceases in its creating outpouring with nary a weak note within is concept based litany. With a 14 and a17 minute song, Disillusion is bound to be compared to Opeth, and the comparison is legitimate, with the exception of Opeth’s emphasis on lengthy acoustic diatribes.

Disillusion’s experimental moments are less confined to 5 minutes of instrumental exploration, but rather a cacophony of sounds intertwined with one single delivery-its often dizzyingly deep and layered, demanding headphones, but simply absorbing it is pure heaven. Main man Vurtox’s dual vocals cover the usual harsh scowl, but remain decipherable, but his clean croon is distinctive within metals realm’, befitting Prog rocks more commercial side, but when layered with the crystal clear studio job, it is infectious. “… And the Mirror Cracked” opens with as many entertaining, twisting riffs and unexpected time changes as many albums contain in their entirety. You have no time to catch your breath as the equally labyrinthine “Fall” cascades and shimmers with each note bearing the light of genius. The mostly clean vocals only serves to highlight the progressive approach with deathly catchy and shifting effect backed by perfect riffing that would be considered exemplary in any genre.

The sample that starts “Alone I Stand In Fires” personifies how I felt at this point in the album, breathless. Despite some programmed looping drums beats threatening to stray to faire into experimental realms, the song rights itself at 2:08 with pure technical perfection and almost theatrical grandiosity. In fact a lot of the material on Back To Times of Splendor could be construed as overly pompous or sonically gregarious, but that fact is every note is delivered with a sense of magnified creativity backed by almost unmatched skill and precision. A respite is given in the form of a beautiful orchestrated introduction to the 14 minute title track that only continues to back one of the albums strongest riffs.

The chorus of the supremely varied title track (still with sobering strings), is simply stunning penmanship, and while rooted in other genres, at no point in the song (or the entire album for that matter) was I thinking of any other song from another band; a major rarity in today’s overcrowded, plagiarized metal scene. “A Day by the Lake” is more simply ‘Opethian’ (heavy/soft contrasts), but rife with moods and emotion akin to the albums concept as well as Vurtox’s fine voice and dramatic ending. My only beef with the album is in fact its brilliance, as petty as it sounds, by the time the compassionate and vast 17 minute album closer “The Sleep of Restless Hours” rolls by, my brain is simply overloaded with precocity and can’t absorb any more. Still, the almost tear inducing section from 4:16 to 6:50 is worth the wait alone.(Be sure to stick around for the blinding last minutes of ‘hidden’ artistic metal precision).

You may discount my seemingly over exited warbling as words of blind infatuation but the fact of the matter remains: Back To Times of Splendor, is one of those special albums, a rarity that comes around every 4 or 5 years and resets the bar as In Flames did with The Jester Race, Opeth did with Morningrise, and Nile with Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren -Ka. Captivating, beautiful and utterly superb, this album will be the album of 2004.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
August 31st, 2004


  1. Commented by: Old Pick Axe

    Larry Owens. You owe me a new eardrum! I went to your page and was looking around…when Disillusion’s “And The Mirror Cracked” came on at full blast. Okay, it was jaw-droppingly awesome, but that’s not the point! You disabled me! More so than usual! *smirk*

  2. Commented by: Staylow


    Who are you?

    This album is every bit as incredible as Erik says.

  3. Commented by: Apollyon

    It is. And then some.

  4. Commented by: Old Pick Axe

    My birth name’s Brandon, but I go by “Old Pick Axe” around the metal pages. Longtime metalhead. Longtime poster at the Cannibal Corpse Message Board. Kris Yancey turned me on to Teeth Of The Divine about a year ago and I never looked back. It’s one of my favorite metal sites. (That’s the Cliff’s Notes of who I am.)

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