Disillusion is one of those anonymous band names where you can’t remember whether you’ve heard anything by them or not. This particular one is from Germany and have been around since 1995 playing progressive metal. “The Liberation” is their first album release in 13 years. Jens Bogren was responsible for mastering this one, which impresses me as this normally means good sound.

An eerie and bombastic build up leads us into epic spheres of the 12 minute “Wintertide”. I appreciated that Disillusion were depicting the expanse of a glorious world, but I could have done without the vocals. First a deep throated German utters some words a la Crematory but with effects added before a limp-wristed chorus ensues. Did I say that Jens Bogren had mastered this? Yet in there are powerful instrumental lines, which range from the melodic to the extremely dark. Half way through “Wintertide” I sensed that the world was falling down. There’s a hint of Opeth as this piece takes its heavy progressive course. “The Great Unknown” is more direct, thrashy even, and again features the edited vocal. I found that at times this work erred between aimlessness and exhibitionism, as Disillusion spread their wings musically. At other times it takes us into the lofty heights of a magic fantasy world. So in summary quite a mix.

The ambience of “The Liberation” suggests there is a theme to it. There is much about mountains and seas, and the struggle against the elements and adversity. “A Shimmer in the Darkest Sea” reflects this. “My hands are cold, my soul it feeds
on failure and catastrophe, my silence sings an endless song” goes the lyric. This particular song is a kind of acoustic folk number with the mock epic vocals. It’s neither mind-bending nor thought provoking, but more importantly for me it’s contrived and unconvincing. As the title track, I expected “The Liberation” to provide enlightenment. What it did confirm was the over-the-top presentation. This spoilt the atmosphere which was shadowy. The talk of sailing for distant shores made me think this was the progressive equivalent of cheesy power metal’s sailing the seven seas cliché. The drama which the vocal element injects doesn’t justify itself. The song itself moves up and down like a swelling sea, and has instrumental power. I just felt that Disillusion were trying too hard to press their point home with this exaggerated presentation. “Time to Let Go” seems to be that kind of track that you get on a theme album where after a load of bombast, you’re brought back to earth and there’s some sort of explanation. Unfortunately I didn’t know where we were, nor where we were going to. It’s an instrumental mix of death metal and calmer tones, and whilst not random, it’s a musical piece without context, for me at least. I did read the lyrics, and essentially it’s a melancholic piece about being time to sail away and let go, as the title suggests. The album finishes with “The Mountain”. Our deep-throated vocalist portrays the sense of remorse and regret as he leaves another to their world of nothingness. This track had a more profound impact on me than any other. Rather than trying to change style, the gloomy is reinforced by the wind and sad symphony. This could have ended at eight minutes and my breath would have been taken away from me, but Disillusion break away into deathly darkness, which I thought was a shame and saved me from emotional suffocation. It was clearly Disillusion’s intention to end on a suitably epic note, which they did, but I felt the powerful impact of the earlier gloom had been lost.

“The Liberation” clearly means a lot to its composer but I found myself mystified and on a different wavelength. I found it overbearing and unable to derive any sensitivity other than at odd moments. The exaggerated and bloated vocals don’t help. This album has plenty of ideas. I just didn’t like its delivery and didn’t share its journey.

(5/10 Andrew Doherty)