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As I have announced in my review for the sole Infester album, the final part of my ten part series on ten of the best metal albums of all time will be another album that surely took its sweet time to fully reveal its full quality to me, and - strangely enough - it is another album that was to remain its band's only. Perhaps bands like these - consciously or subconsciously - take the axiom of quitting when you're ahead to its natural conclusion upon discovering their debuts could not be improved upon in any way? Disembowelment's debut Transcendence into the Peripheral at least has been influential enough to have been tried to be copied, continued or improved upon by other bands - including one with two people who played on this album - and never has been surpassed, matched or even closely approached in quality or impact. It remains to this day a monument with a difficulty of ascent to its summit on par with scaling both Everest and K2 in one day. It is therefore honourable that Disembowelment themselves decided to forego an inevitably inferior sophomore that could have been the band's Mortal Throne of Nazarene at most - a different approach resulting in a truly great album that nonetheless remains in the colossal shadow of its predecessor, unable to make anywhere near the same mark. Instead, Transcendence into the Peripheral is what it is: Something that can only be achieved once in a lifetime, and a freak occurence that can never be repeated. Something we need to be glad it manifested at all for how it enriched the genre and the life of its listeners.
I'd say most of us who first listened to this album previously encountered the reputation that precedes it, the monumental status it has in the most extreme sub-styles of doom metal and the many times it is cited as a major influence by funeral doom metal bands, so, as if anticipating its future reputation, the band could not have chosen a more delightfully surprising way to open it than a buzzing grindcore riff soon joined by an unhinged blast beat. Interestingly, it's almost identical to how Pestilence's Consuming Impulse and Benediction's Transcend the Rubicon start out. If one bored day you are so inclined, compare the three albums' opening riffs, it's uncanny. While those two bands however stay right at where they start out, Disembowelment only dwell on the thought for a moment before going into an unnerving tremolo lead that even in today's era of dissonant black metal trends doesn't seem safe for a metal band to play. You won't get much time to wonder about the aesthetic choice however as the band soon after drastically shifts the mood again by slowing the speed to a near halt. First two or three minutes into the album and you know it's not going to be the easiest ride.
The atmosphere Disembowelment create is often disturbing. When they crawl at a snail's speed they don't envelop you in that comforting warmth of sorrow you'd expect from funeral doom staples like Skepticism or Evoken, but paint a bleak, nihilistic picture reminiscent of the claustrophobia of being lost in a dark environment with no point of reference or method of orientation to guide you to a way out. The recurrent reverbed clean notes reinforce this helpless feeling - you are somewhere alone in this dark, cold place with no apparent escape, with a haunting presence looming over you like a permanent threat. You feel you need to run, but you have no way of knowing in which direction, you are lost, don't know where to go, but cannot stay where you are. The presence sporadically manifests itself in the band unexpectedly erupting into one of their otherworldly grinding frenzies, to remind you whenever you might develop a sense of safety that the threat is always near, that there is mortal danger around you ready to strike at any moment, that you need to run, just to end up in a place that is just like the place you were before you ran. It's almost like Slenderman to those of us who are unfortunately not oblivious to silly internet memes, except darker and unsettlingly less silly.
The irony is not only the contrast to the album's blissful esoteric, almost new age titles, but that this blissful esoteric feeling is actually also present all through the album. That for all the haunting threat, all the fear and all the paranoia, you actually feel like you are in a higher, more exalted, transcendental state that one feels that one should aspire to. Like a bleak nirvana to ascend to from our mundane existence of celebrations, love and beauty. An escape from the meaningless distractions of life to the higher existential state of pure darkness and discomfort. Perhaps this album is the audial meditative instruction to a new, nihilistic form of anti-Buddhism.
You can gather from the above descriptions why this album took a long time to fully make it into my mental collection of highly venerated albums. It's an unsettling and unnerving experience. And open every listen, every one of the hundreds of times I listened to it, it becomes clear how and why this can never be replicated or matched, because it requires a special kind of inspiration that can only exist for but one fleeting moment. The right people coming together at the right time having just the right thoughts and feelings, a chance constellation so unlikely that we must be eternally thankful to the fates of the universe for its freak occurence. And to those willing to argue that metal may be the best of all music genres of history so far, this album can be a strong argument, because "masterpiece" does not even begin to describe its power and glory.
Back in the days before My Dying Bride and Anathema even existed, there was a two-piece grind band in Melbourne, Australia called Bacteria that decided after a little while to combine what they were doing with some things that were completely different. As a result of this, one of metal's most truly amazing bands came to be.
Perhaps more than any other band, diSEMBOWELMENT is the true embodiment of crushing, soul-scarring doom. Their combination of epic, glacially-paced riffs, fuzzy, post-rock sonic architecture, mournful, tortured vocal atmospherics and blast beat violence was a truly unique recipe that has since been mirrored and echoed across the metal sphere but rarely as impressively or as compulsively.
Transcendence Into the Peripheral is diSEMBOWELMENT's only full-length release, a culmination of their experimental technique that remains untarnished due to the band's decision to split not long after it was released, and thereby ensuring a legacy that could not be sullied by an attempt to match or surpass it.
With a mere seven tracks stretching the running time to almost an hour, Transcendence Into the Peripheral is neither an album for the faint-of-heart nor the attention-deficient. Psycroptic and Dillinger Escape Plan squeeze more riffs into one song than diSEMBOWELMENT use on this entire album, but the dark, brooding introspection and mystical reflection conjured by the languid drone of a track like "A Burial at Ornans" is the exact and diametric opposite of the shock and awe tactics of those bands.
The album opens with "The Tree of Life and Death", a strange combination of grind, death and ambience that was the inspiration for the Alchemist track "Soul Return" that came out two years later. diSEMBOWELMENT's minimalist style is perfectly represented here. Incredibly slow riffs reverberate forever until an occasional vicious blastbeat or grind section comes from out of nowhere and then subside again almost immediately for a truly haunting atmospheric section to take its place. Vocals ooze out of the distance as a variety of low, growling rumbles, whispers, shouts and chants that only accentuate the band's stark aura of dismal gloom. That's just the first track. "Your Prophetic Throne of Ivory" is bleaker still, with a soul-withering atmosphere almost painful to endure. The gentle acoustics of "Nightside of Eden" belie the abyssic despair of its spoken-word poetry as what at first seems like a lighthouse of hope is merely a corpse-light amidst further gloom.
Then diSEMBOWELMENT rolls out the depressing triumph of "A Burial at Ornans", a hope-crushing fourteen-minute colossus so slow the main riff drones on for almost a minute and a half. This track is a genuinely remarkable achievement, the centrepiece of the album's agonising existential journey, a journey completed by "Cerulean Transcience of All My Imagined Shores" that slowly lifts the listener up from the depths of mortal despair and through a gateway to ethereal existence.
Transcendence Into the Peripheral is precisely as its title suggests, the most complete musical metaphor for spiritual enlightenment thus far conceived and an unassailable masterpiece never to be bettered.
Originally written for Pyromusic.net
Australia, sweet Australia. Delivering the goods to unsuspecting listeners... and yes, though these goods are relatively scarce, one can always groove along to top acts such as Atlantics, Lubricated Goat, and last but not least, Disembowelment, aka Big D (which could serve as a perfect double entendre). Disembowelment's Transcendence promises a soothing ambiance and a sensuality overload that will make your blood boil - see that cover? Yeah, just get closer to it. If you are dating a bipolar snail, this album IS the platter of choice for wooing his/her horns.
The introduction to Big D's sonic universe is more than subtle. That means it starts like WHAMO! with a really agitated rhythm that would bring Katharsis' less polished moments to my mind, then morphs into sloppily executed death metal, then blows right into the stratosphere with grindcore blasts accompanied by a clean guitar melody that sounds like lifted from the lost X-Files soundtrack. It all comes to a halt when the guys really get into the meat of this record - the doom and gloom, perfectly expressed through the really pounding drum sound. Well, I wish that I could've said the same about the mean sounding, low key distorted riffs that are oh so present on this record, but that would've made me a liar. They are mean, low key, distorted, but they are quite difficult to make out. The general approach on this album is very clear: picture Swans' bleakest soundscapes (similar intent, yet unfortunately diluted sonic strength) meeting Napalm Death on a mellow evening gig and being infused with Cocteau Twins' lilting guitar melodies. Of course, the lilting melodies are there only to stress the life-affirming nature of this record, folks.
Though track by track reviews are not always the best way to go (like, try doing a track by track review for a Anal Cunt compilation), this album has only 7 tunes, and they can all be subjected to a pretty neato SWOT analysis.
The opener "The Tree of Life and Death" pretty much sums it up, at least in principle, as I've said before, and it doesn't give a great image. Fact is, the drummer likes varying tempos and gets spazzed out whenever he feels like doing it, throwing in pedal fills and rhythmic blurbs, and entering the death metal stallion mode just when you were ready to reach ecstasy, or reach for the damn cup of coffee. Too bad that he doesn't always sound as if he actually IS there - not that he'd be lifeless, but he doesn't seem to have a brain. Take "Excoriate", for example, bringing the heat in the city with an obnoxious bash-bash-bash start-stop rhythm that doesn't quite fit neither into death metal nor into grindcore, but fits perfectly into the "nutty kid making his dad's drum kit cry" category. After the annoyingly poor blastbeat ends, the mid-section is well executed with its slowly progressing electric wails of sorrow, yet they still come back with an oogah-boogah revenge worthy of the Muppets' Animal. "Your Prophetic Throne of Ivory", on the contrary, is so much more pleasant from a rhythmic standpoint, with tighter sounding drumming and an interesting mood transition, from Bethlehem-esque rumination to almost tropical (!?) and back to even lower depths of despair. The stark contrast between the doom crunch and the clean guitar is something to marvel at.
"A Burial At Ornans", aside from the tip of the hat to Courbet, manages to improve all the points where the album opener failed. A host of truly malevolent riffs (both slow and fast!), really low and ominous growls, fast sections that are perfectly placed within the song in order to make your spine softer than jelly, and a great doom song overall. And the riffs, again, they are audible and rise above the piss-poor fuzz that they are often reduced to, probably due to that heavy reverb. Sure, doom metal is not Jason Becker's playground, and one well chosen note, when repeated, can be more meaningful than an epic solo etc., but if you are going to play it that way, try make it count. Make yourself heard, champ! Growling the pudding out of your lungs is not the only goal. Though he does it with style, doesn't it. This vocalist is definitely in the top of growlers, a nervous ball of bowels that is as adept at subsonic gurgles as it is at throwing black metal hissy fits every once in a while. However, they made an exception for the interlude "Nightside of Eden", which sounds a lot like the Cocteau Twins with its drowsy melodies and feminine vocals, albeit darker. Imagine eating an apple in total obscurity near a really irritating chattering chick (it's a shame that one can't slap the stereo to make her shut up), while a devil prepares to shove a sword of flames up your ass. They're black flames, that's why you can't see 'em.
Coming really close to the end, "The Spirits of the Tall Hills" begins with a rather lengthy chiming introduction, tries to capitalize upon the melodies from "Your bla bla" and render them more ominous, and it fails at doing so. Not miserably, but I wonder if it really makes any difference - c'mon, even Nirvana's "Come As You Are" had a more imposing atmosphere. It just drags on and on with the usual plodding/fast formula, but the drummer shows quite an amazing jammy side, adding some salt and pepper to the vapidity. At last, he's really cooking.
As for "Cerulean Transience...", it is a nice ending to an otherwise rather flawed album. Oscillating between festive and menacing, driven by folk sounding themes during the first half, the song seems to gain strength especially thanks to the clean guitar riffs that become increasingly intense. It's hard to figure out whether the guitar is all by itself or if it is completed by some sort of bell, but it sure does the trick.
Can one person stay the same after going through this transcendence shiznit? What does this make you think of? What are its redeeming powers? If I were a less experienced listener, after passing through this whole album, I'd probably start writing poetry that would get nobody laid (like the song titles found here), but I shrugged and got back to the ole greats - Candlemass, Saint Vitus, Melvins, Boris and so on. Now I'm a guy that doesn't need any more Big D in his life.
In 1993 when death metal was still young, four guys from down under combined their past musical efforts in grindcore and death metal with ambient doom and forged it into one scary beast of an album. No one ever did something similar to this before and an entirely new genre was spawned here. Be prepared...
Right after the first seconds it becomes clear that this is not your usual 1993 death metal. The muddy, down-tuned guitars and bass droning back and forth between incomprehensible growls and the slow, but thunderous drums convincingly sound like this was recorded in a dark cave devoid of any sunlight...in which you are trapped now. Out of nothing, a faint, clean guitar is humming strange melodies of sadness and despair. It spends some light in this place, but soon it fades again and you are left in pure darkness. But the calm is not meant to last long. The guitars speed up, the drums start blasting, and something is following you. You are desperately running, exhausted, lost in this cave.
The instrumentation is typical for death metal: guitars, bass, drums, and vocals, but the way the band uses the instruments is often different from what other bands do. The huge amount of reverb applied to the entire recording turns the guitars and bass, which mostly play basic riffs, into droning noise that is the fundamentals of the recording. The drums vary from very slow doom rhythms to fast blast beats and give everything a shape and order, and the deep, slow and thus almost incomprehensible growls add a lot to the mood altogether. Only the occasionally appearing clean guitar adds some actual melody to the music, creating an interesting contrast to the death metal fundamental. The band does not play technical or complex at all, but I think this would only decrease the effect of the music.
Although the feeling of being chased in endlessly dark caves drags through the entire album, each of the seven songs has its own mood. While "Your Prophetic Throne Of Ivory" makes a lot of use of the clean guitars and "Nightside Of Eden" consists entirely of spoken word over said guitars, the fourteen and a half minute beast that is "A Burial At Ornans" is pure darkness. There is no light in this song...no hope, not even sadness. Just fear in its purest form. The last song, however, ends the album almost friendly and hopeful.
The songs themselves don't follow any constant structure and have no choruses or verses, so at first it can be hard to tell how the songs will evolve, but I think this makes them even more absorbing and fascinating because the listener is forced to listen attentively.
Definitely worth a mention are the lyrics. They are very poetic and seem to tell a mystical story about life and death. The imagery used is incredibly alive and absorbing. Reading the lyrics while listening really gives the music another dimension:
The winds brought in from the south coast replace
Such drainful inhabitance,
My eyelids voluntarily close as the blue horizon line takes shape,
Stretching out far beyond the sun,
The sound of the blue, an eternity of complete acquiescence,
I cannot move, nor do I need to, for it is enough to lie on the cliff
And become entrapped in a world of escapism and peace
The only minor issue I have are the sometimes similar-sounding riffs during the slower parts. Still, Disembowelment created something very creative and absolutely unique with "Transcendence Into The Peripheral". There is no instrumental wanking or showing off. Everything is meant to serve the atmosphere, which is incredibly dense and almost unparalleled in extreme metal.
Disembowelment - Death/doom metal from Australia. The final Australian band that I was going to give a chance to. Usually with Australian bands, there is always SOMETHING that I find overly annoying about them (musically), it's either the vocalist, guitarist, bassist, or drummer. Granted, there are bands with flawed musicians everywhere out there, I tend to veer clear of them since I tend to only look for the most elite in the scenes. Some may view this as a bit close-minded, but preference is preference. I don't tolerate sub-par musicians.
This band, however, are actually quite phenomenal when it comes to each instrument. Something that I find incredibly shocking is that the vocalist doesn't sound like a deathcore vocalist, since that's usually the sound I gather from most Australian vocalists in death metal. When it's not the vocalist, it's usually almost either the drummer or guitarist (occasionally the bassist is really boring and doesn't offer anything but rhythm support, but that can be overlooked if the riff is REALLY great). With Disembowelment, none of these issues are here (the vocalist does occasionally sound like he got his vocal style mixed up and starts sounding like he's auditioning for black metal, but it doesn't sound bad at all). There are some really great and fast passages on this album which heavily rival the slower segments. The only problem is, most of the tracks on the album consist of near epic-length tracks with three of them being over ten minutes long. There are two ways to do epic-length tracks: the good way, and the shitty, "what the hell are you doing?" way. Sadly, Disembowelment handle the latter.
Most of their music consists of tempos exceeding 260 bpms (odd for death/doom, right?) and off-time time signatures, it adds such an interesting edge to the genre which they're tackling. The problem is, they have about four minutes in every "epic-length" track consisting of the same riff over and over. Repetitiveness is okay with black metal when dealing with atmosphere, and death/doom is exactly the kind of genre which needs some atmosphere in it to succeed greatly, but when you go from those types of tempos straight to four minutes of slow repetitive riffs until the end of the track, it makes you literally hope for a faster section again just to wake you up.
The album for the most part remains this consistent throughout, not giving much variety to the pattern which I explained before with the "epics". There are some really excellent riffs and bass going on here, plus fantastic drumming. As I mentioned before, there was some strangeness with the vocalist, yet he was able to pull it off rather well. He offers a variety of vocalization to the album. It goes to everything from a brutal death metal vocal, to a black metal, to a classic death metal. It's really cool with his delivery, actually.
Honestly, this album's biggest downfall is the repetitive, uninteresting sections of the album. Sixty minutes of the same type of song pattern becomes almost a chore to listen to. Maybe I'll give this album a second chance in the future, but from my first impression, I do not like this. If they were to cut out those certain sections all together, this would probably be a very great underground gem of classic death metal.
An intensely ugly tremolo-picked riff begins the album. A single guitar riff that builds tension so rapidly that your insides will churn and you’ll feel as though your guts are being torn into by an unfathomable horror that only music so grisly could conjure. So ugly and so intense is this single riff that it ensures that Transcendence Into the Peripheral will be one of the most brutally ugly albums you’ll ever hear.
Soon the riff is accompanied by pounding death metal percussion and deep guttural growls. In a sense, it is almost typical of a death metal album to begin this way. But diSEMBOWELMENT is an entirely different entity. The song continues with its death metal grunts and punishing percussion until, suddenly, the album reveals its true nature. The percussion gradually slows down until it reaches a pace of cruel, pounding slowness. The riffs are no longer tremolo picked; they are churned out at a dirge-like pace with the utmost emphasis on punishing heaviness. This album is not a death metal album; indeed, it is a monstrous hybrid of death metal and doom metal. The combination of the two isn’t blended enough to constitute death/doom, as the tempos vary too often. All throughout the album, the music will constantly alternate between death metal blasts and doom metal dirges, with the latter being deployed more often. Does this effect work? Oh yes; to absolute perfection.
Certainly the band has more tricks up their sleeve aside from the down-tuned, distorted rhythms and maddening tempo shifts. The band indeed has a penchant for the unusual, displayed mostly by tracks such as “Your Prophetic Throne of Ivory” and “Spirit of the Tall Hills”. Ethereal clean guitar melodies are used prominently in these tracks. Rest assured, they do not detract from the primal brutality of the music. They create a haunted aura; leaving you alone in a vast wasteland of misery to dwell in. These leads are especially effective when combined with the death metal tempos. The album knows this, and pummels you with such at its leisure.
However I can pick no track as a standout, because the album flows so cohesively that individual songs don’t seem to matter. The one curious addition to the album is “Nightside at Eden”, which is an entirely clean song with female vocals, of all things! However, its intention is undoubtedly sinister, for it lulls you into a false sense of security which is soon destroyed by the crushing weight of “Burial at Ornans”, which hurls you back into a swamp of distorted violence to drown in. No ethereal clean melodies on this song; just good ‘ole fashioned brutality.
‘Tis a shame that this album turned out to be their swan song, as they disbanded soon after. Yet, their legacy lives on, for back in 1993, they created a metal masterpiece for all time, and its name is “Transcendence into the Peripheral”. For doom metal fans, this is a must-have, and the same goes for those who enjoy ugliness in their music.
Originally written for http://circleofdestruction.net
Those who are familiar with Australia and it's people will likely have heard of "the cultural cringe"- basically, it's a sense of shame over Australia's output in the arts. With the exception of one or two playwrights, the Chaser TV show, some aboriginal art and a couple of excellent punk/pub rock bands from the late 70's we haven't really released anything in any sort of medium that's internationally reknown**, except for stuff like Kylie Minogue,Jet and Neighbours- and dreck like this only increases the cultural cringe. I guess if you live in a wealthy, happy-go-lucky country (3rd on the UN's development index) with fantastic weather and amazing beaches then crafting some powerful, emotional art- or even vaguely funny TV shows- just really doesn't work. Why get all depressed and paint/write/compose/sculpt/etc when you can drink beer and play cricket or surf?
Australia is just too nice a place for good art to be created, unless if we're talking satire shows and paintings consisting mostly of dots. So there's no irony whatsoever in my claim that this album is the highpoint in Australian art thus far. Yes, move over Sydney Nolan, Tim Winton, Banjo Patterson, other horribly mediocre painters/writers/bush poets (Waltzing Matilda sucks balls, guys, stop singing it at sports games and let it die already), this is some amazing stuff that should replace our horrible national anthem and get a public holiday in it's honour.
"Transcendence into the Peripheral" is a strange and wonderful album, and you'll be perplexed and entranced by it long after the last song has stopped playing. Whereas most death/doom I'd heard (which isn't a lot) before this album made a point of using death metal riffs that were somewhat watered down and never all that fast paced - basically sounding like the doom section of the song sped up- diSEMBOWELMENT mix some furious blasty death/grind with some of the dreamiest, deepest (albeit still devastating) doom I've ever heard. It's a strange formula, and the excellent execution of this- the seamless transitions between the slow and the fast- make this whole thing even more confusing.
"The sound of the blue, an eternity of complete acquiescence,
I cannot move, nor do I need to, for it is enough to lie on the cliff
And become entrapped in a world of escapism and peace,
Cerulean transience of all my imagined shores, "
It's a shame you can't hang albums in art galleries; this album is one that's meant to be listened to and understood as much as possible . If this was purely death/grind then it's meaning might be obvious, same if this record consisted mostly of the dreamier bits. Ultimately though we see both heaven and hell; good and evil, life and death, everything mixed together and made one. The masterful juxtaposition of moods on display here suggest that Disembowelment didn't really have any theme, indeed, going for something that's quite the opposite; not just focusing on one subject matter but bringing us an unimaginably broad vista that just encompasses everything (albeit often more on the crushing, depressed side of things). Less of an imparting of meaning, and more just showing you, well, everything about everything. Perhaps the themes and meanings aren't meant to be as confusing and meta as I'm thinking; instead it's likely that these guys are all a bunch of ascended beings and I'm just not worthy to understand what they have deigned to pass down to me. Or, I'm just really dumb. Regardless, in my spare time I'm going to draw up a religion based on this.
My many drunk ramblings about the sheer depth and celestial meaning etc. of this may get you kind of worried; perhaps thoughts like "I imagine this is some gimmick 'deep and meaningful' band that's total rubbish" are entering your head. Not to worry, though, this doesn't rely on monk chant or orthodox Satanism or whatever to appear all mystical and transcendent. Nope, the music is as befuddling and wonderful as everything else. The whole thing is too dark and heavy to be called a "pleasurable" listen, but this album could be about teapots and it'd still be a classic death/doom album. The death/grind riffs are really ferocious; the opening riff to the album being a good statement that this is not
just another death/doom band. Full of blastbeats, fast and extremely heavy (Throne or Orhnan being another good example). Said heaviness is increased to singularity type densities when Disembowelment slow it all down, I've always thought that doom when done right is a good deal heavier then the blast-iest death metal, and the proof is in basically every song in this album (the epic "Your Prophetic Throne of Ivory" being a good example). Massive stuff that invites all sorts of "really big thing" type adjectives.
Continuing on the "strange but mind blowing" theme, the production. Cavernous but still as clear as it should be; drums are trigger heavy but the whole thing still has a warm, organic tone, guitars are strangely trebly and death metal sounding, but still sound monolithic during the doom parts. It's a great example of production that couldn't really be objectively called 'good' (in terms of frequency response and what not) but it works, and it works incredibly well. This album would be great whether it was recorded by Bob Rock or Paysage D'Hiver; the fact that the production is perfect makes this whole thing even better.
I kind of liken this band to Thergothon; like that band these guys seemed to stumble upon something truly otherworldly and powerful; so powerful that a second album was just not possible. Alternatively this may have been a bunch of hippies on a bad trip recording some soul crushing tunes. Still; whether this is just some stoned hippies or a deliberate, shattering look into the void this is some fine, fine work from these Melbournians; and it is a relief that us antipodeans aren't just tanned dudes that are good at surfing and cricket (I'll take that over nothing, mind). Many thanks to these guys for providing a crushing, deep and mind boggling death/doom masterpiece.
**I'm sure I've missed some great australian art that's well known. No, I don't care.
Oppressively heavy, at times hauntingly and majestically introspective, this album from extinct Melbourne beast Disembowelment is a diamond in the rough. Whereas a tendency might exist to classify this band along side those of the Doom Metal sub-genre, this release from the band transcends that genre qualitatively and idealistically. Indeed the music has more in common with grindcore and also ambient music than some overly sentimental and melancholic doom/heavy metal.
A high level of musical variation is displayed as furiously fast and liquid 'melodic' phrases flow and progress linearly, subsequently changing down to slow but vast and crushing passages of, yes, ambient riffing.
Tone is delivered through a huge and hideous method of production partly paralleled in much grindcore music but here given much more bass and also some reverb. This production technique allows such slow and weighty riff fragments to hang in an infinite space, vibrating with an intensity comparable only to the energy levels immediately furnished by an exothermic reaction in the sun.
Clean but deconstructed 'lead' guitar lines are used to stunning effect when placed over these fragmented and weighty undercurrents of thunder, as are occasional clean vocals, creating an ambient and 'doomy' variation of melodic grindcore. These aspects of the music are given boundaries by shifting percussion which sometimes hits repetitively, slow and hard, in rhythm with the laborious riffs and at other times changes to blast furiously around the riff pattern.
Progression in each composition is thus often slow, but it is by no means non-existent. Tacks do flow, often remarkably so, but... slowly - due to the ambient nature of much of the music which injects much more space into metal than is the norm, especially in grindcore-influenced metal. This is reflected in the long length of time expended by most of the tracks.
This is vast music and it dwarfs the listener, but in this way it is far from being self-obsessive. I imagine that, due to its impact, it is as much an exercise in ego death as can be achieved by music. However, one's time meditating with this monster will nevertheless furnish questions and highlight the ever groping nature of the human being.
From 'Corrupt Australia': http://australia.corrupt.org/category/Art
That's all there is to be found in this beautiful debut release from a band that split-up way too early. Only in some parallel universe where Disembowelment is still together can you experience whatever majesty would come following he release of Transcendence Into The Peripheral.
This album is, undoubtedly, a Doom Metal release, but upon hearing the Opening track, you'd probably mistake this band for a Death/Grind group (Excoriate is a perfect example of Grind representation). Indeed, there are various influences jumbled into one that create the sound heard while listening to these songs such as Death Metal, Grind, even some Black Metal elements are thrown into it (mainly certain vocal tacks).
The production on this album is.. Raw, by my standards, but it's not terribly raw (i.e. Static. Just like the Mayhem demo!). In fact, this album is a prime example of what raw production sounds like when done correctly. The drums come in perfectly clear. In fact, it's the drums that are the driving force of the music. Here's an interesting note, and little research for you to do. When listening to the songs, preferably the Blast Beats on the first two tracks, listen closely to the snare. It almost sounds like he has two completely different snare drums (which is very Goratory. Of course this was made in '93, so therefore, Disembowelment did it first, if he uses two snare drums, that is.). The guitar are low, down/drop tuned and slightly monotone, but they're perfect for this Doom Metal sound the band went for (Electric Funeral, anyone?). The Bass -- which IS audible -- is not distorted at all. I love this aspect. The bass is recorded on a completely clean channel, and matches with the guitar perfectly. The clean guitars come in neatly, and the tone that they're used on is absolutely beautiful. Cerulean Transience of All My Imagined Shores, Spirits Of The Tall Hills, and Your Prophetic Throne of Ivory are prime and absolutely perfect examples of how good this Tone is. The vocal are performed great, but I'm curious over whether or not there are effects added to them. Sometimes they seem to echo, so I question if there's a Reverb effect or if it's just that the microphone caught his voice bouncing off the walls in the studio. Either way, they are grand.
This album is a requiem and a message for the dead. It's dark, evil, gloomy, depressing, full of despair, and is all out Doom.
Outstanding Performances: All. They're all perfect.
DISEMBOWELMENT…………..a name that lives on in the history of metal as one of the most unique and powerful bands of its time. 1993 was the year that DISEMBOWELMENT dropped “Transcendence into the Peripheral” onto an unsuspecting metal crowd. The poetry and vocals of Renato Gallina, the mighty bass tone of Matt Skarajew, the riffs of Jason Kells and the controlled and heavy drumming of Paul Mazziotta combined to create something that “transcended” music genres as a whole, creating a sound that no one had ever dreamed of making before. “Transcendence into the Peripheral” creates an atmosphere like none other; a thick, heavy, dirty and organic sound, like a cave or cavern of some sort. The lyrics reaching to other worlds, distant mystic lands ranging from death ridden places to peaceful and tranquil landscapes. This is “Transcendence in the Peripheral” this is one of the greatest albums to ever be recorded.
Normally I hate track-by-track reviews but the sheer power of this album requires an explanation for every single point awarded.
”The Tree of Life and Death” starts off the album with a furious grinding guitar sound along with insane drumming and blast beat filled riffs then suddenly stopping and shifting to the genre of total and utter doom, the lyrics of a doomed town, whose peasants are dying and see death face to face; an incredible start to the journey into hell and back.
”Your Prophetic Throne of Ivory” is the first song that starts doom and stays doom for a long time. With a powerful beginning of chanting, waning guitars and low, deep drum beats. Perhaps one of the best songs on the album, the riff doesn’t change for minutes and the song does not build up until the end and then leaving the listener with a sudden stop and the beginning riff is played again….slowly….slower and then is covered by a low hum and a quiet stop.
”Excoriate” starts off really fast, picking up right away to catch a surprised and dulled listener from “Your Prophetic Throne of Ivory”. Blasting for minutes then like a wall the doom hits, with powerful double bass work, a droning riff and some reeeaaaaalllllyyy slow vocals the shear sinister nature of this song (hence the title) shows its ugly venomous head. Possibly the best example of DISEMBOWELMENT’s sound is this song.
”Nightside of Eden” a spoken word interlude with female vocals and slow and melodic chords and harps breaks up the ultra-heavy and creepy vibe and adds a layer of maturity and poetic touches. The somber and romantic lyrics really pull away from the negativity of the last track.
”A Burial at Ornans” words cannot describe this song. My God in Heaven, this song might be one of the greatest songs ever penned. I would really like to explain the music but it’s impossible.
”The Spirits of the Tall Hills” is another fantastic track, another insanely slow and mystic passage of funeral doom mixed with blasting. The lyrics in this song are some of the best ever written that these eyes have seen:
”………the Spirits embrace my soul, as I envision the neutral spectrum before me, the harp echoes and echoes and……..my wings take me to bewilderment”
A phenomenal ending coupled with these lyrics makes for one hell of a song.
”Cerulean Transience of all My Imagined Shores” is simply breathtaking. The whole album took us to hell and this song drags us up into the heavens as we all melt away into souls. The very last note fades away into nothingness and this song completes our journey to discover our own existence, one of the most powerful endings to an album that has ever been created.
The insert inside of the album said “Purveyors of Premium Grind” I wonder if DISEMBOWELMENT knew that they were going to create on of the most influential doom records of all time; creating a whole new sound and look to doom. This album is the definition of flawless and if you cannot enjoy it I weep for you, as a part of you must be missing. It was written in cosmic power that this band would disband after this album but we all give a mighty bow to the powerful, crushing and immense “d”. “Tread lightly……for we will not pass this way again”
I love this album. I loved this band's DUSK EP. I played this album every day for MONTHS. I was so enraptured by it that I played it for everyone I knew, even if I knew they hated metal. Many a fan of the COCTEAU TWINS or DEAD CAN DANCE came to be blown away by it. It is easily one of the most affecting, disturbing, ethereal and atmospheric albums I've ever heard. Sure it's doom, but it is so much more. The grind breaks that appear out of nowhere, the haunting melodies that sweep in unexpectedly, the dreary mellow passages, it all adds up to an amazing effort. To this day, outside of drone doom like SUNN, I don't know of a slower track than "A Burial At Ornas." I once figured out that it took the band something like a minute and twenty seconds to perform the entire central riff ONCE. That is amazing. Along with THERGOTHON, I thought I had died and gone to some weird zombie like bliss state upon hearing this amazing recording. Perhaps most alarmingly, apart from SKEPTICISM, I have heard no other band even begin to approach the bleak majesty of this music. If somebody has, PLEASE email me and tell me about 'em. I could write an entire book on the soundscapes of woe and desolation that I envisage upon hearing this masterpiece, and maybe someday I (or somebody else) will. And yes, I have heard the subsequent project TRIAL OF THE BOW, and I do enjoy their music quite a lot. But TRANSCENDENCE is once of those albums that is a law and a reality unto itself. Praises be that it is easily available in reissued form once again, as it seemed to slide under the radar in it's first life. If ou love doom, death, metal, or just mind and life expanding music, you must hear this. It is as close to a religious experience as most of us will ever hope to have.
Disembowelment, an Australasian quartet from Melbourne in Australian. Formed in 1989, Disembowelment are considered one of the most talented bands to ever record with the death/doom crossover genre. By many, this Australian act are consider pioneers in the death/doom sound and to this day, one of the most influential bands to reign. Considering the fact that Disembowelment only issued one full-length, albeit a stunning one, to the public, this is quite some feat. It took four years for the band to come out with ‘Transcendence Into The Peripheral’, but it was worth the wait. Given the complaints of many fans in recent years, Disembowelment break the mould given the fact that they have a very distinctive sound and the unusual, for the time anyway, imprinting of grind on their music wasn’t the norm for bands of this nature. Grind was seemingly never incorporated into the death/doom sound, but Disembowelment turned things on their head when they decided it was time to unleash something slightly different to the world in 1993. This isn’t your typical death/doom metal record. Although it does contain features of both genres, as I said, there is an overwhelming grind influence, especially in terms of the percussion on the record. ‘Transcendence Into The Peripheral’ is one of the pinnacle moments in death/doom history and will forever be seen as a noted highlight in many fans collections. Although it may be over a decade old, time has not had it’s way with this strong debut. The gruelling nature of this record will not allow itself to be beaten by the burden that time has on the shoulders of many an album. Standing the test of time is important when considering the affective attributes of this record. The most important elements still sound good, even to this day.
With just under an hour of material present on ‘Transcendence Into The Peripheral’, Disembowelment have a tough job on their hands in making this an interesting listen. All too often doom metal can bore the audience to tears with it’s slow progressions and awkward song structures which don’t allow for much variation. Disembowelment do not come into this equation. They are not one of the many bands who suffer from a lack of creativity, that is for sure. This record is creative in it’s own right and innovative for both the era it came out in and the modern scene. It’s eclectic range of influences is probably the most important factor in this remaining an interesting listen for an hour. It isn’t highly sought after for no reason. The purpose of the music seems to be to lead the listener into a false sense of security and make them believe they are in control over what is going to happen. Take ‘A Burial At Ornans’, one of the best tracks on the record, this song starts almost typically of doom metal songs. Slow, but gradual progression on the guitars with a persistent percussion section pounding away in the distance. At first, the audience will believe they’re in for a fairly standard doom metal ride, but the influence of both the death and grind genres do not allow the audience to dictate the direction of the record and it’s the strong direction that Disembowelment take us in that makes this almost a perfect rollercoaster ride of emotions. For many, this was probably the first time one questioned oneself over their knowledge of the crossover genre. It was a fairly predictable ride in the past, but Disembowelment have torn up the road and layered it with numerous death traps in which each and every one of us can unwittingly fall in to. After a fairly standard opening to this track, ‘A Burial At Ornans’, that is when things begin to show a different side. The track speeds up and signifies the Australian’s mesmerising use of varied tempos, which later becomes important not only to the song, but the entire record. Whilst the bellows of the vocalist continue to show us that the soundscapes are consistently slow and sparse of anything but negative emotion, the percussion becomes all important. This epic assault of almost 15 minutes really takes off and the death/grind influences grip the song by the throat and torture it into submission. The furious guitars, with the subtle bass work tirelessly in creating a sense of beauty in the overwhelmingly bleak atmospheres. The percussion has never been so important to a band as it is to Disembowelment. In many ways, it dictates play. Slow, but pressing beats slowly evolve, like the other elements of the songs, into aggressive, fast and furious break downs.
The crunching distortion of the guitars is perfect for the doom basis of the material, the percussion really brings that death/grind feeling to the foreground with oppressive double bass work and snapping snares which aim to stab the audience with punishing sounds. The contrast of fast and slow music is portrayed immensely by the Melbourne based band. The only minor concern is with the vocals. Although they stand the test of time, they don’t press the audience with as high intensity that the drums do, for example. Whilst, musically, the atmospheric styling of Disembowelment is nigh on perfect, the vocals aren’t the best they could do. However, tracks like ‘Your Prophetic Throne Of Ivory’ do show that they could have been a lot better. Personally, I think the band should have varied the vocals. Clean, almost operatic like vocals during the cleaner sections, whilst the harsh vocals should come in when the tempos deviated from the norm. The production is a bit of a worry too. The bass is fairly anonymous, which is disappointing. It’s influence is very subtle and of course, it does do the ground level work on the soundscapes, but with more influence then the bass could have upped it’s performance.
Doom metal can be an awfully confusing genre... on one hand, there's your classic "rocking" doom metal, the funeral-dirge insomnia-curing drone nonsense, and the death/doom camp. Disembowelment's sole full-length does a damn good job of combining the latter two, while increasing the death metal quota. In other words, you get the crushing, oppressive feel of drone-doom coupled with the crunch and power of old-school slow death maestro's like Asphyx and Obituary. That's not to say this is particularly headbangable. No, it's the sort of thing you throw on when you wish to be absorbed in a sickening atmosphere of pure melancholic hate.
"The Tree Of Life And Death" opens things up with a deceptively fast section, with slashing death metal riffs and a cleaner guitar passage weaving in and out of drumming which alternates between midpaced blasting and slower pounding. It gets a bit weird when the blasts cross over into the clean parts, where it just sounds like the drummer forgot to slow down, but that only happens once. The first minute or so continues like this, before the pace drops down to a sludgy crawl. This approach continues for the remainder of the song, changing enough to keep one's mind occupied, but not so much as to become disjointed. Then "Your Prophetic Throne Of Ivory" kicks off with an atmosphere so morbidly depressing, weaker souls will be reaching for the razors within the first 30 seconds. Of course, it speeds up too, switching things around as much as the first song. But that first section returns later on, and it's just as amazing the second time round.
"Excoriate", on the other hand, is mostly a fast, brutal death metal song, which is then followed by the mellow interlude "Nightside of Eden", which leads into the second half. Here, the music keeps to a more streamlined approach, mostly slower paced and less fractured, with longer songs which allow the listener to sink into the droning depression of it all. "A Burial At Ornans" is easily the most impressive song here. Words are really insufficient to describe this thing, it's just too good to dance about architure, so I won't even bother.
After nearly an hour, you'll feel physically drained if you pay full attention this album. It's either an emotionally scouring experience, or a chore to endure, depending on your personal preferences and mood at the time. The production, too, is much rougher than most similar releases at the time - very resonant and murky, as if the drums and vocals (which consist entirely of a moaning, inhuman bellow) were recorded in an enormous, echoing cavern while the guitars were tracked underwater and filtered through granite. This is especially prominent during the fast section, where the reverb becomes almost overpowering to the music itself. This leads to an album that has rightly become a forgotten gem - couple that with the understated cover and a band photo that looks like an emo band, and it's obvious Disembowelment were going out of their way to remain unnoticed by those who fail to look past the gore-laden artwork and "tough guy" image utilized so much in the early 90's. Methinks this is long overdue for a reissue, but I guess Relapse would rather keep churning out a shitload crappy grindcore, ambient noise and stoner rock like they've been doing for the last 8 years or so. Ah well... if you can find this anywhere, and are prepared for an exceptionally challenging listen, then don't hestitate to pick it.