The acclaimed debut from this German three man act, Back to Times of Splendor, was my top album of 2004, and I was not alone in my praise for an album that took melodic death metal and made it exiting, progressive and challenging. However, as the release of the follow up Gloria grew nearer, I heard leaked rumbling of a complete change in direction and lots of negative murmurs about the electronic direction of Gloria, even mentioning Rammstein as a comparison. Being the supreme professional journalist that I am (stop snickering at the back), even when I got the promo, saw the cover and song titles, I still decided to give Gloria the benefit of the doubt, before I jumped on the band wagon and rushed to negative judgment. With mutltiple listens, I can safely say that the negative press is founded. However, I can also say that Gloria as an album, in its own right, and not a follow up to Back to Times of Splendor, stands alone as a fine example of engaging and adventurous music that simply refuses to rest on its laurels.Personally the Rammstein comparison is a little off despite the Germanic/programmed nature of the album. The real issue is here, is how you revere the prior album or if you have even heard it. Because as a stand alone album, Gloria is in fact a very good and interesting album of electronic/synth based progressive rock/metal. Just not death metal, not even melodic death metal. Gone are the gruff growls, replaced by a robotic spoken word, although the unique clean vocals of Vurtox that littered Back to Times of Splendor are here, almost salvaging the album. The electronic programmed element has replaced much of the orchestration and the album has an almost clinical, industrial/mechanical feel to it. Sure there are riffs, some very good ones at that and at times there are hints of the prior albums magnificence, but they are few and far between. You almost have to appreciate this album as a different band that the one that recorded Back to Times of Splendor.

The promising orchestration that starts opener “The Black Sea” , but when the drum beat licks in, you just know you are in for an altogether different beast. Still, even with the initial disappointment that will inevitably come once processed the vocals kick in, the spectacular vocal work of the chorus reminds you that Disillusion are masters of their genre-whatever they chose to be. “Dread It” follows the same path as the opener but I’ll admit the program heavy, spoken word drivel of “Don’t Go Any Further” is THE track that will breaks the fans back, as it nearly did mine. Luckily though, that track is the low point of the album is followed by the introspective “Avalanche”, and though littered with too much robotic waffling, the orchestration, choral work and brass section is majestic as heck, “Gloria” is a fine song. The techno/trance stylings of “Aerophobic” will be another sticking point for detractors but the most ‘metal’ track on the album, “The Hole We Are In” saves grace. The ironically titled “Save the Past” despite is dulcet chorus seems an afterthought of a song and “Lava” is yet another industrial/prgrammed mess. The hot/cold nature of the album is personified by the last two tracks, “Too Many Broken Ceasefires” the album’s most complete, least electronic song and the somber spoken word “Untiefen”.

Though disappointed by Gloria, I’m not ready to anoint it the metal disappointment of 2006 as many no doubt will, and personally I was close after 1 or 2 listens. But frankly I sort of have to laud the band for taking this sort of risk as they just had to now the shift in sound would garner some negative attention. But if you just focus on Gloria and try to forget the previous album, and simply listen to Gloria as a single entity, there’s a lot to absorb and enjoy. The thing is, I don’t see Disillusion standing pat with their next album, and would not be surprised to see a radical shift from Gloria. I just hope its for the better, not just for the different.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 31st, 2006


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