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It was Dave McKean's cover art that did it. That haunting, gruesomely surreal and nightmarish cover art, spawned from the same dark imagination that splashed true horror over the comic book pages of Batman's Arkham Asylum and Neil Gaiman's Sandman. As a budding metalhead and long time comic lover, how could I not be intrigued? I stared at the cover art for hours, studying every nuance, while my ears absorbed an album as darkly grotesque and beautiful as the art that adorned it.
Disincarnate's Dreams Of The Carrion Kind is one of the greatest one-offs in death metal history. Journeyman axe-slinger James Murphy (ex-Death, Cancer, Obituary, etc.) finally had the wherewithal to put his own band together and the result was an instant classic. In hindsight, it is hard to quantify what made this album so exceptional and important. To retroactive ears at twenty-odd years remove, this sounds fairly standard and conventional. But in '93, with death metal already past prime, Dreams Of The Carrion Kind raised the bulwark, demonstrating to many that death metal wasn't quite dead yet, that there was a way forward amid the cluttering despair of break-ups, sell-outs, and impending nü-groove debris.
Several things set this record apart: impeccable and memorable songwriting; deft and inventive riffs and solos; a cohesion of thematic feeling and atmosphere; and a monolithic production job that still sounds fresh to this day. From the brief nightmarish intro of "De Profundis" into the colossally stark and menacing "Stench Of Paradise Burning" through the twin peaks of "Monarch Of The Sleeping Marches" and "Soul Erosion," and the final exhaustive release of "Immemorial Dream," you are gifted access to a realm of profound darkness, suffering, and pain. Everything from the instrumentation to the vocals sounds harsh and abrasive, with an almost corrosively industrial bleakness permeating the air. Murphy and co. take traditional late 80's Florida death metal and suffuse it with further heaviness, further bitterness, and a more cerebral take on the madness and horror running through the genre's DNA. Add atop that Murphy's characteristic flair for brain gougingly memorable riffs and solos and you have a near-perfect storm of prime early 90's death metal.
One could nit-pick Bryan Cegon's vocals as being slightly too monotone. One could take aim at several tracks utilizing a verse-chorus structure, indicating the music isn't "outside the mainstream" enough to qualify as truly underground or whatever. And the band's failure to capitalize on this record is sometimes held against them as well. I could care less about any of that shit. When "Confine Of Shadows" hits my ears, all is right in this fucked up world, Disincarnate's world, for the brief time they were together, and on the timeless record they left in their wake.
I remember being excited to hear this as a teenager based on the fact that James Murphy's work on Cause of Death (Obituary) was excellent. Unfortunately, playing solos is all James Murphy should be relegated to doing, as I learned from listening to this dreck. Disincarnate sounds like the byproduct of all overplayed generic death metal techniques thrown into a blender that adds up to nothing more than being Roadrunner Records most generic death metal release in their history.
Nothing here is spectacular. The vocals are typical hoarse growling delivered effectively. The lyrics are actually really well written and some of the topics are fairly interesting though, of course, there is subject matter typical of the genre in there as well (Beyond the Flesh). Drums are played on point, no complaints. If they were triggered, they're not overbearing, as the bass drums aren't annoying. The performances are top notch, these guys are without a doubt great musicians. The problem is the music itself: it's tame and boring.
All the songs cycle back between riffs. The structures are so simple that everything just runs in a loop. This band is no challenge to it's audience or themselves. Just some cool riffs on occasion held together by rhythm to create a simplified, headbangable version of the death metal at the time. It amounts to nothing more than that, however, and after one song, it wears thin real quick. Tracks are interchangeable. All the technical flourishes are just that, flourishes (usually the same harmonizing positions too, for cheap "morbidity" i.e. death metal cred), and don't add anything to death metal, sounding like unnecessarily bloated versions of what could be decent Brutality riffs. The band is content with just grooving most of the time and thus negates the whole purpose of their pretension towards intellectualism with the concepts they present in their lyrics. To put it in simple terms, it's no wonder James Murphy ditched this project to join Konkhra once they decided to head straight into Machine Head territory. Even Cancer's Death Shall Rise is more rewarding as a "generic death" product, as this is more a solo showcase from James Murphy sandwiched in between standard death metal riffs and song construction heard a million times better before. Boring.
It’s been about 16 years now since I bought the tape of “Dreams of the Carrion Kind” and first listened to it as a teenager. Can’t believe it’s been that long, to be honest, especially that this album doesn’t seem to be getting old at all; when I listen to it nowadays it still sounds amazingly fresh and vital for me. That alone must speak a lot for significance and strength of the material that the group led by James Murphy recorded.
In my humble opinion DISINCARNATE did one of the most devastating, original and important albums of that time. Remember that it was 1993; year when many fans, labels, magazines started to feel really fed up by the amount of death metal bands and releases coming out every month. I remember that the reviews of death metal bands at that time were becoming more and more average and hardly any LPs were really praised. The reason for it was simple – in 1993 it was more and more difficult to come up with something truly original and interesting. Of course this year wasn’t as bad as say 1995 or 1996, when the number of great death metal albums could have been counted on five fingers. But look at what bands like ENTOMBED, GOREFEST, MORGOTH, TIAMAT, THERION, OBITUARY, DEICIDE recorded in 1993 and tell me if any of these albums (even if they're still good) are better than their earlier recordings?
It is important to imagine what was going on in the (death) metal scene in 1992-93. Why? Because this is the time when James Murphy, after leaving DEATH and OBITUARY decided to form a band, which would play technical and brutal death metal with a progressive touch and be an outlet for all the ideas Murphy gathered and couldn’t use in the bands he played before. He was aiming for something unique and better that anything else he contributed in before. Of course “Dreams of the Carrion Kind” is still pretty much standard, straightforward death metal record in most of its parts; it isn’t an experimental, jazzing, absurd type of playing, bands like ATHEIST or CYNIC delivered. Here the riffs are damn heavy and brutal and have enough energy to blow up the entire town if you play this LP in proper volume… But just listen to these riffs! In my opinion Murphy brought here really original riffage, maybe little bit melodic, but with a charisma far different from the typical American death metal band.
Give a listen to “Stench of Paradise Burning” and you may know what I mean. This is wonderful song, so intense and massive that it can kill, but the technical precision and wonderful guitar solo part is something totally unique and hardly ever heard before. The opening part of “”Beyond the Flesh” is just staggering and the doomy feeling makes this song one of the best on the album. And that guitar solo again! Man, the melodies and guitar soloing truly are some of the best I’ve ever heard on the death metal album and I guess only Chuck Schuldiner could have reached such level of emotions and passion. This is almost weird that a death metal record, which is all based on pure aggression, can bring also so many different emotions, sometimes almost beautiful, sorrowful parts, like that slow, doom laden fragment in “In Sufferance”. That’s an absolute masterpiece.
Other thing that I must underline is the fact that the material on “Dreams of the Carrion Kind” is so equal that it’s impossible to point out the best songs. No filler here! It could be “Monarch of the Sleeping Marches”, with MY DYING BRIDE’s Aaron Stainthope guest vocal appearance in the chorus. This song is so brutal and infectious that you’ll have neck ache for days! But any track picked up from “Dreams of the Carrion Kind” is a killer, it’s a complete, perfected album with plenty of hooks but also material to bang your skull maniacally. I praised the wonderful job Murphy did, but I cannot forget about great work of other DISINCARNATE members: whether we speak about Tommy Viator’s precise drumming or Bryan Cegon’s characteristic vocals – even that alone is so different from the usual death metal vocalisations. I can’t believe that Cegon wasn’t later picked up by another death metal band; such great is his performance here. Man, I really can’t find any weak parts on “Dreams of the Carrion Kind”!!! I might moan on the production a bit, as the demo versions of some of the songs sounded even more brutal (they’ve been recorded in the MORRISOUND), but who cares?! In my opinion this is just superb, classic album and one that will never get boring. 16 years on and I still listen to this vinyl (or CD, as I have both) with honest, undying pleasure. Amazing.
Disincarnate is best known as the main band of famous guitarist James Murphy, who has played in other bands such as Death, Obituary, and Testament. They only have one album out, but it’s quite great.
Disincarnate plays a very straightforward, riff-oriented style of death metal with most of the emphasis being on the guitars. The riffs on this album are all of the highest quality, being both brutal, heavy, catchy, and memorable. For example, ‘Monarch Of The Sleeping Marches’ kicks off with a few consecutive great riffs, including a slow one that is just awesome. This is a trend that repeats itself with every track on this album, with these riffs seemingly appearing effortlessly.
Of course, this album is more than riffs. The guitar solos here are simply some of the best-composed solos of the Florida death metal scene. They’re not overly indulgent, nor do the try to play too quickly. Instead, they almost seem like they’re composed to fit perfectly over the consistently great riffs underneath them. Of course, these solos are very melodic, similar to Brutality’s solos, and there is often harmonization that really emphasizes certain solos and gives them that extra emotional sway that really helps establish their place on this album. The best solo on here is probably on ‘In Sufferance’, and it simply slays.
Bass plays a relatively smaller role on this album, but it’s certainly audible and is the foundation for all of the riffs on this album. The drums are also standard fare for death metal, but as with the bass, it is executed perfectly and plays interesting rhythms for each of the many excellent album. This is obviously a guitar-oriented album, as is expected for a project primarily led by a prominent guitarist, and even at that, this is likely what a guitarist would desire old school death metal to sound like. The rhythm section is just there to provide the final support needed.
The vocals are unexpectedly excellent considering that this is a no-name vocalist (Bryan Cegon?) who has never been in another metal band since. He really hits those low guttural growls so well that it’s just perplexing that he didn’t get involved in another band after this. Even the mere sound of his vocals fits so well with the riffs here. This is simply one of the better vocal performances of the Florida death metal scene.
Normally I just analyze the instrumental performances of the albums I’ve reviewd, but for this one, special mention is necessary for the production by Colin Richardson. Not only is everything audible and mixed perfectly, but the guitars sound incredibly crisp and heavy. This album has possibly some of the best production of any death metal album ever made. I own the original 1993 pressing (not the remaster), and it sounds like it could have been made by some big label modern death metal band with a huge budget. This is literally about as good as one can get death metal to sound.
Standout tracks include ‘Stench Of Paradise Burning’, ‘Beyond The Flesh’, ‘In Sufferance’, ‘Monarch Of The Sleeping Marches’, ‘Soul Erosion’, and ‘Confine Of Shadows’. Yes, this album is just that good. All of these songs are laden with addictive and heavy riffs written by a master of death metal.
Written for http://thenumberoftheblog.com/
James Murphy is a Death Metal GOD. He brought forth some of the most interesting and melodic riffing and technicality to many classic bands and albums throughout the early 90s and this is no different. Dreams of the Carrion Kind is literally one of the best OSDM albums one can ever come across. This album has it all! The vocals are unmatched in intensity, it''s a shame that this guy hasn''t been on any other projects that I''m aware of! James Murphy needs no explanation, arguably one of the most influential Death Metal guitarists of all time. The production is fantastic, which was done by legendary Colin Richardson. For an album that was released in 1993 this album sounds GREAT and arguably holds up to today''s standards.
Monarch of the Sleeping Marches'' first half is arguably the highlight of the album. Some of the best riffing my ears have been privileged to hear is present on the opening section of this song and perfectly displays James Murphy''s ability to be melodic, groovy and dynamic in his performance all throughout this album.
One of the best parts about this album, or any album in general, is the ability for the songs to be distinguished between each other. There are a lot of hooks on this album with fantastic and I mean FANTASTIC guitarwork in both soloing and riffage that keep you wanting to come back for more. You''ll be humming a riff to one song one week while the chorus of another will be in your head the next week.
The true highlight of this album though is James Murphy, as he handled the songwriting and the bass and guitarwork. The vocalist is amazing for this record while the drummer does his job well, but James Murphy really makes this, as well as the other classic OSDM albums he''s participated on, shine as brightly as it does.
Overall, this is ESSENTIAL OSDM for any metalhead, especially for any James Murphy fan. I highly suggest you check out Death''s Spiritual Healing, Obituary''s Cause of Death and Cancer''s Death Shall Rise if you want more of this amazing musician''s work. This album deserves a 100 as it is the pinnacle of Old-School Death Metal, in my eyes. Enjoy!
If the name James Murphy is in it you probably already know what to expect: pure "Old School" Death Metal. All his previous works became seminal masterpieces of the genre (Death's "Spiritual Healing" and the magnificent "Cause of Death" from Obituary, to me the supreme epitomization of Death Metal).
However this release embodies Murphy's very own vision of the genre. It is "his" band, not a side project or a participation in another big name release. This album is far heavier then Death's "Spiritual Healing" and contains much more intrincate song structure than Obituary's "Cause of Death".
The style is totally "Old School" Death Metal with thundering, bass intensive riffage. Melody is primarily built in the rhythm section, but occasionally verges into beautifully crafted guitar solos that are James Murphy's trademark. Very catchy (however brutal) passages will keep resounding in your head for days.
Spiced with extremely accurate tempo changes the music flows from lumbering, morbid doomy passages to shredding guitar attacks in the speed of light. The instrumental "Immemorial Dream" is wonderfully crafted and mixes distortion with beautifully dissonant acoustic guitars. Drumming is also very good. Accurate but without showmanship, what is the exact measure for this release. Double bass is largely explored and sometimes furious blast beats follow the course of the wild guitars.
If you are a fan of "Old School" Death Metal this is album is a must buy.
Search for the release with bonus tracks. It contains Disincarnate's first demo tape and has a redesigned booklet with notes written by many personalities including Joel Stroetzel from "Killswitch Engage" and James Murphy himself.
A classic of extreme music.