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Desultory > Bitterness > Reviews
Desultory - Bitterness

Wolverine Bitterness - 87%

robotiq, September 4th, 2020

"Bitterness" is a glorious musical dead-end; a Stockholm death metal band recording at Studio Sunlight in the post "Wolverine Blues"-era. Thankfully there is more to it than that. Comparing "Bitterness" to contemporary death-ish metal crap like "Soulless", "Across the Open Sea" or "Massive Killing Capacity" would be insulting. The Entombed influence had seeped into Desultory but it didn't consume them. They retained the best bits from their "Into Eternity" debut and upgraded them. The result was one of the most surprising and worthwhile metal records of its time.

The most memorable aspect of the band’s debut album was the guitar melodies. These are even better here. Stefan Pöge sounds more measured, varied, and more comfortable repeating phrases for emphasis. He gives the songs a more mournful, less thrashy feel. He seems to have integrated some classic metal influences, and some of this reminds me of Savatage, Queensrÿche, or maybe even Rainbow. The songs are more complex and distinct, with stronger riffs. The guitar tone is thicker and more typical of the Sunlight/Skogsberg sound. Klas Morberg adopts a deeper, shoutier style of vocals. He sounds more like LG Petrov than Tomas Lindberg here, but he still has a powerful voice.

The first half of the album is particularly good. The speed passages of "Left Behind" and "Taste of Tragedy" combine with the slower, crunchier moments of "Life Shatters" and "A Closing Eye". Every song is packed with killer solos, great riffs and interesting lyrics. The band took more risks than they did on the debut. There are some stark riff changes (e.g., 1:36 of "Left Behind"), adding an element of unpredictability. The second half of the album is good too, though less immediate. The slower songs ("Bleeding", "Among Mortals" and "Winter") only make sense after repeated listens. The two faster songs are brilliant; "Enslaved" sounds like a busier, more intense version of material from the debut, its middle section achieving the emotional climax the band have long sought. The final song "Cold Bitterness" is the album's best. The pure speed and aggression belies the band's technical brilliance. My favourite bit on the entire album is the transition at 2:10, where Pöge plays a simple riff over some mind-bending, chaotic drumming, it almost sounds like Atheist.

This album is better than "Into Eternity". Desultory took the best aspects of "Wolverine Blues" (dirty, slummy rock rhythms and a thick guitar tone), and added their own flourishes. They created music that was as heavy, challenging and complex as anything in Sweden at the time. "Bitterness" benefits from repeated listens because there are no easy reference points. There are few (if any) records that sound similar. The slower moments bear comparison to Paradise Lost, maybe "Shades of God"-era. The faster songs predict what Deceased would later do on "Fearless Undead Machines"; incorporating classic metal influences into a death metal sound. Neither comparison tells the whole story. "Bitterness" is unique.

Unfortunately for Desultory, the locus of control for Swedish death metal in 1994 was heading west. The Stockholm scene was dwindling. Entombed had lost interest in the genre and the other big names were crumbling. In Gothenburg meanwhile, At the Gates began their own melodic death metal journey with "Terminal Spirit Disease", which was released a few weeks after this record. Of the two albums, "Bitterness" is stronger but more difficult to comprehend. It may have been an artistic triumph but it lacks the clear vision of At the Gates. This cost Desultory and they missed their chance. Stefan Pöge left the band soon after, which robbed them of their prized asset. Looking back, "Bitterness" was the sweetest of misfortunes.

Death Monument. The Continuation - 100%

Tlacaxipehualiztli, August 28th, 2010

Only one year after releasing monumental masterpiece “Into Eternity” Desultory needed to unleash the successor. His name is “Bitterness”. This time there are new songs written just on this album exclusively. Again nine tracks, the same line-up, producer and Sunlight Studio. The main question is: did Desultory achieve this masterly level just like “Bitterness” predecessor?

I remember some announcements in the metal press. Prepare for Desultory forthcoming with the new stuff – the answer for My Dying Bride! He, he… don’t believe it, this advertising lies!!! Or somebody lives in kingdom of anacousis.
Comparing to the first cd everything is different here: sounding, way of creating music, vocals. There is no thrash influences, in turn the band put a bigger accent on melody. Don’t worry, this Big Four of metal genius perfectly refreshed their music. It brought completely another journey to undiscovered metal music area. Not like great bands like Entombed, Dismember or Unleashed, “Bitterness” freshens up with each second I listen to. And this I call exceptionality. Yes, that’s right, each of these bands added more melody in their second/third albums, but nobody was able to do this in the way like Desultory did.

Desultory created five bestial death metal firecrackers: “Left Behind”, “Taste Of Tragedy”, “Among Mortals”, “Enslaved” and “Cold Bitterness”. But album is opened by “Life Shatters” (by the way, great synopsis album lyrics) and Thomas mightful drumming. This is a real devastation, then guitars hold down to the wall. There is no escape. After few seconds you can hear the difference comparing to “Into Eternity” – more powerful sounding, haunced bass lines and vocals – Klas strengthened and intensified his singing, I can define it: powerful screams he, he… I can clearly see the band vision to create a masterpiece, conscious step ahead, beyond the rest. All in frames of death metal music but enriched by vast, spatial and monumental work of art.
I would like to write about three songs. About opener I mentioned above – no one can do it like Desultory. Life Shatters… no! Your brain shatters during listening to it. Stefan and his guitar amaze once again, it can be seen he really develops his uncommon skills. In addition heavy-duty bass bruises. The next song entitled “A Closing Eye” has a calm keys introduction, but the guitars… delicious! This is epic, monumental song with outstanding guitar melodies played by Stefan and two solos (one of them ends the song). This kind of song structure is something new for the band, maybe the beginning of “Forever Gone” from the first cd. And the last one, I think a kind of culmination… “Enslaved”! Brutal, energetic, fast track, with exploiting beginning. Admiring sharp, juicy guitars I ride till the chorus. Seemingly chaotic melodic guitar work becomes again death metal tornado. The “Enslaved” acme is slowdown lasting more or less two minutes. The light keys makes an incidental music, but there is only one master: Stefan Pöge and his solo… And the cutthroat Klas screams:

“I can see right through you
You’re not in harmony
Not in harmony with life
Just like me

Alive but dead
Alive but dead!”

After these words the song turns to death metal storm. Again…

The last track on the album is “Cold Bitterness”, which shows all force of real death metal band. Then silence reigns in your troubled mind…

By the second album Desultory proves the debut wasn’t some kind of throwaway effort. The band has matured and accomplished sound, mental and psychical devastation. Together with “Into Eternity”, “Bitterness” has a special place in my life. To put it briefly, these masterpieces of metal music are my favourite death metal albums. This condition has lasted since 1993/94. Nothing is changed today. Nothing will change in future.
Unfortunately one tragic day came to me. It was releasing date of the third album “Swallow The Snake”. I was a passenger on board of Desultory train. Sadly to write, this train was off the rails while his engine-driver Stefan Pöge had gone before the catastrophe. But this is completely another story…

Sure Tastes Bitter - 83%

OzzyApu, June 25th, 2009

Dear Wåhlin… that cover art is some of the most beguiling shit I’ve ever seen on the front of a death metal album. Not only that, but it reflects the music pretty accurately: aside from the red / purple mixture reminding me of Fruit Roll-Ups, it rubbed off this melodic (but not processed melodic) approach and a classical tinge with sugary flavoring. The image itself is full of hateful and somber inspirations, which again can be said about the music, too. Don’t be fooled into grouping this with the melodeath crowd, since this is anything but such.

Of all the early death metal bands that tried to achieve the most melody, this album would be the crowning jewel. What we have here is a full-length built solely around the classically stimulated leadwork and the atmosphere that becomes projected because of it. The vocals, bass, and drumming merely feed off of it since the riffs really capture the heart of the listener.

On every track you’ll hear driving, emotionally stirred playing that make the best of In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, and At The Gates sound like amateur bullshit (which isn’t that inaccurate of a statement even if Desultory weren’t in the picture). The tracks here resemble a more melodic Lake Of Tears circa Greater Art: vocals aren’t the highlights, drum quality is beefy, and the bass rolls like thunder. Thankfully there isn’t any keyboard cheesiness to ruin the moment, so the guitars handle all the pleasant melodies. I know I’m using the word “melody” a lot, but if you look up “Desultory” in the dictionary, you’ll literally find the word “melody” right next to it. This album just defines death metal that isn’t redundant and melodic death that isn’t generic – it’s a hybrid that outperforms in both departments.

I’m not giving a whole lot of love to the other instruments because they seriously leave the inventiveness to the riffs – they control the entire rhythm / formula / creativity / everything. Drumming sounds spectacularly deep, crunchy, and organic, with the playing itself precise, catchy, and following the lead in supporting fashion. Bass doesn’t always escort the main riff since isn’t effective all the time, so it sometimes plays a third groove alongside the rhythm and lead riffs. This works wonders in the listening experience and adds that extra level of depth to keep you coming back for more than just the oozing leadwork.

The hardest thing I had to digest was the vocals: they’re not death grunts, screams, or growls, but hardcore-ish yells. Yeah I know, I was confused when I first heard them, too. I’ve never heard such vocals in death metal – you thought Demilich’s belching style sounded out of place, just hear this. At first I thought they sucked hard and completely downgraded the experience, but slowly they caught this unique appeal. I kept telling myself (even while writing this review and listening to the album) that “the vocals really could have used some improvement / change of style.” However, this other side of me asked, “Could you picture the music having different vocals?”

“Fuck, I guess not.” It’s like Death – you know Chuck Schuldiner can’t sing worth a damn, but can you really imagine the music benefiting from different vocals? So the vocals were a pain to deal with upon first hearing them, but they’ll slowly get the best of you and actually help you focus more on the riffs. Morberg’s yell is clear, rough, loud, aggressive, and subtly bitter. They’re prominent in the mix and oppose the very sweet, melodious, classical, and passionate leads. When it comes to the solos, lets just say that they have more life in them than the vocals.

With this album your day will no doubt be less bright and optimistic – this album will crush all those cheerfulness and replace it with expressions of solidarity, solemn reflection, and a greater sense of musical ingenuity. As for the album - I’d recommend it and hopefully you’ll recommend it to others after listening.

Wow, melodic Swedish death that really works! - 87%

natrix, January 29th, 2008

Desultory's first album was one of a kind. A lighter version of Swedish death metal with effective use of atmosphere and melody, that really kicked ass. Their third album was a steaming pile of rhino feces, also known as death n' roll. And here we have an album that fits somewhere else in all the mix...

The songs are a little less daunting in length on here, and do follow a real verse-chorus-verse-chorus pattern, which give this a real ear friendly appeal. Even scarier is the greater use of melodies and simple, catchy riffs to carry the songs along. OH SHIT!!!

What I'm describing sounds like a nightmare on paper, even for myself, but in reality it turns out to be a lot better than what I've described. You've still got a nasty, Swedish guitar tone, and Klas Morberg has quite the anguished roar. They haven't left behind faster songs, with "Left Behind" coming in a nearly the fastest song they've done, complete with a grinding break down in the middle. "Taste of Tragedy" is likewise fast, punishing Swedish death, with a bit of a Possessed riff thrown in for good measure. The mid section slows down, putting in another melodic riff. "Amoung Mortals," "Enslaved," and "Cold Bitterness" are likewise fast, face ripping Swedish death. The latter is the least melodic of ANY song these guys have done, coming as a real surprise closer for the album.

"Bleeding" sounds like it could have come right off of Into Eternity, esepcially with that opening riff. A few of the songs on here, especially "A Closing Eye" and "Winter" sound like they could have been big hits, but don't suck.

I'm not too nuts about the drum production on here, even though Thomas Johnson does a great job. It could use a little more high end, but I'm splitting hairs here. The guitars sound more nasty than on the debut, which gives the album an added brutality boost. Stefan Poge sadly left the band after this album, taking with him most of the melody and his tasty solos. His performance I find is not quite as spectacular as on the debut, just because his solos don't evoke the feeling of freezing winter nights, and the solos here are often more like simply melodies.

This is what Sentenced's Amok could have been, had it not pushed too hard away from death metal. This is what Amorphis' Tales From the Thousand Lakes could have been if streamlined and without the keyboards. This is nothing like In Flames or any of the mallcore crap they spawned.

This is surprisingly melodic, catchy death metal that doesn't suck!