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Now...I was raised as an honest, young man, and I’m not going to lie. You, curious reader, deserve the truth! Disiplin's 'Anti-Life' is basically a running joke within my circle of friends. By no means, will I let this bias my honest, straight-forward opinion of this record.
To cut right down to the bone, this embodies all I hate about newer black metal. And I have plenty of reasons for this. To break that aforementioned bone, I feel completely secure in saying that this sounds, feels and plays like an angst-laden metalcore album with black metal influences. From the sing-along style chorus lines in 'Orthodox Devil Worship' and 'Feed the Fucker to the Dogs', to the forehead vein-inducing pseudo-anger that pulses and glistens in it's own self-secreted puss in every single song and even further...right down to the actual song structures, worming it's way deep into the core of the composition itself. It all just stinks of 'buy my bullshit and like it' business school graduate philosophy that would hook any pissed off 16 year old kid in seconds. But, in my ripe old age of 22, somewhere along the line I had a great revelation that these people, setting their images and alias' aside, wipe their ass in the same exact fashion as I do, and 'Anti-Life' just feels completely fake and hollow.
But enough with the philosophical, analytical horsepucky; what does it all sound like?
Like I said, my opinion may be controversial, but it really just feels like basic, accessible metalcore with generous injection of black metal tonality. The album's opener, 'Orthodox Devil Worship', exemplifies my previous statement perfectly. It kicks in with a clever little riff littered with some fast string hopping, before going into big, chunky mosh-riff coupled with a simple, but nonetheless effective drum beat, and then further gravitates into what can be considered a break down, low-end palm-muted open chord slams that are in time with the percussion rhythm, which is heavy on fills and bursts of speedy double-bass technique. From there, the track subliminally speeds up by introducing a blast-beat into the mix and more interesting riff work from the guitar and leads to the best part of the track, which always brings a smile to my face when I hear it...the chorus, which is simply the screaming of 'Orthodox Devil Worship', coupled with another riff that would make the vintage Motley Crue proud, all supported by the 'mighty' 'Hellcommander' Nattefrost on backing vocals. Despite all of this sugaring up, the backing vocals (specifically the gutterals) sounds like Disiplin just wheeled in an elderly gent, dying and plagued with a bad case of pneumonia, to just cough into the microphone: Weak, ineffective and as impacting as being hit aside the head with a loaf of white bread.
Setting all this aside, my statement of this being a 'blackcore' album of sorts can be turned against me by saying that 'Anti-Life' is simply a change of pace and something different. True, of course. While being different from the whole spectrum of underground black metal, it's no different then something you could find on the shelf of a major music provider. In my mind's eye, I see underground black metal as a cold, uninviting form of music, where you can knock on the door and it just simply won't answer. This is a record that's on the other end of the neighborhood...knock on the door, it's going to invite you in for tea and maybe some cookies and it'll probably ask how you've been lately, because it's that accessible, it's that inviting and pleasing to the ears (at least some of ours). Some people are going to like this, and I can't blame them really...this album is absolutely loaded with tons of toe-tapping, head-nodding beats, and equally just as many catchy riffs, exhibiting all sorts of various, well-honed chops in the form of hammer-ons, pull-offs, trills, some tremolo picking, and hell, you've even got some well-executed solos such in tracks like '11' and 'The Arsonist Academy'. Easy to stomach, in a sense...
What are going to turn serious black metal fans away are the lyrics, the composure of the music, the absolutely sterile production values, we can go further by adding slower, half-time ‘breakdown’ like passages, somber and melancholic vocals and the presence of ‘upbeat’, easily embraceable musicianship. The lyrics are laughable at best, such as the chorus lines in 'Feed the Fucker to the Dogs', 'Pesticide' and '11', which just reeks of pure cheese and is incredibly difficult to even remotely take with any form of seriousness. I'll take an example of from 'Pesticide': "We burn the Earth, we burn the sky, we burn Jesus", with the song ended in the chant of 'BURN!’ It's all just very weak. And I’m being nice, and I’m not going to delve into the lyrical stink occupying '11' or 'Militia'.
The composure of the music, as previously stated, is loaded with some interesting things, but it also has it's fair share of simple, dumbed-down power riffs, such as the intro to 'Militia' that could earn flying colors on the Ozzfest circuit; very simple power-chords, in a very simple progression. You also have elementary palm-muted chord stabs, meathead style hooks, and that sense of 'teenage virgin with average grades in math class'-style angst, primarily coming from the vocals.
The production is crystal clear, absolutely everything is audible. The guitars are nice and crunchy, and form a tidal wave of sound. All ranges of frequency are vibrant, lush and crowded; the vocals are crisp, clean and easily decipherable. Most people beg for this type of production, but it equates to one big, serious down set...atmosphere, and the things the latter creates. The heightened emotional content, the sheer, raw, overwhelming culmination of the sum of it all working to act almost like a second band, or its own form of being. It's not here. Like I said, it's sterile. Sure, it's nice, and it sounds good on a $500 stereo, but it lacks the stripped-down, skeletal, primitive stopping power that many other Norwegian black metal bands can create. And this is coming from a line-up with a history branching from Dissection to Koldbrann…need I say more?
So, if you've made it this far, lets add all these numbers up. What we have on Disiplin's 'Anti-Life' is a formula taking the 'better' hindquarters of modern metal/metalcore and giving a black metal enema, so to speak. It has a gunship worth of big riffs, frantic howling and yelling, and big budget-style production. What it lacks is ability, emotion and a sense of interest outside of mindless lyrical rhymes and chest pounding. An angry album stuck in a grim wheelchair, with a sense of 'mean' and 'hate' that's perfectly marketable. If you're into Devildriver, newer Ozzy, Unearth...hell, even newer Carpathian Forest or Dark Funeral, have at! All others, keep your distance, spend you're money on something you aren't going to listen to seriously on one occassion, and pull out of laughs on every other subsequent occassion.
I haven't heard many decent or above-average Black Metal albums hailing from Norway for quite a while now. I think most of the most recent BM bands that are from Norway always lack something special, something to stand out from the thousands of other BM bands we have these days. Disiplin' second album, Anti-Life, doesn't redefine the genre, but the good thing they have are riffs. Just some solid BM riffs from start to end, with no keyboard wankery or anything like that. I have to admit, I didn't get bored once when I listened to this album, even the third time I listened to it. Even the slow parts are interesting and scary in their own way (see "11").
The songs on here that provide chaotic BM riffs are "Anti-Life" and "The Arsonist Academy". The Arsonist Academy kicks off with an insane and chaotic solo, which is then followed by another excellent riff. In fact, this whole song has excellent riffs throughout. The vocals are extremely evil, but they don't add or remove feelings to the music. I feel the focus of this album is mainly riffs, anways. "Anti-Life" is even crazier, with some evil and low spoken vocals during the breaks, with some echoing guitars. Most of the other songs featured on this album are also like the 2 songs I just mentioned, just not THAT good. Still a great album though, and i'm sure i'll keep this one playing again for quite some time.