Disillusion are BACK. The German melo-death menagerie have long established themselves as a strong creative force by bringing their emotional take on metal to the underground for roughly 15 years. Having created one of the most brilliant and underrated metal albums of the century, Back To Times of Splendor, Disillusion carved a spot for themselves in the metalverse with intelligent lyricism, intense long-form songs, and dramatic storytelling.
The Liberation—their first full-length record in 13 years—revisits many of the successes brought about by Back To The Times of Splendor, only this time as a more matured, sparkling product that sounds modern and authentic. The Liberation is exactly the kind of album Disillusion needed to make and it's success should land the band into the stream of modern metal discourse (where they so deserve a spot). Ultimately, The Liberation is an easy choice for a spot on the Albums of The Year list—it's that good.
The Liberation opens slowly and deliberately, fostering pensiveness and inviting the listener into immediate mental withdrawal, a perfect setting for self-reflection and undivided attention. The music is beautiful, as it is a hallmark of the band to make gorgeous music. In fact, what makes this album so successful is the band's ability to make gorgeous music interesting and alluring. Throughout the album, harmonies blend into breathtaking familiarity. However, the journey to get there is often twisting and full of trepidation.
Throughout the journey of the lengthy songs, The Liberation does an impressive job of maintaining a high level of intensity no matter the part. Cacophonous, wild expressions mix with lingering, softer moments that somehow have a way of making you forget the 12-minute time frame of the song. The album opener "Wintertide" excels in this, adding more stringed instruments (such as the cello) to deepen the quiet somberness.
The following track, "The Great Unknown," is a prototypical example of the kind of music Disillusion is so gifted at making. Discordant harmonies find a way to become gorgeous and freeing and by the chorus, the great release of tension built up by the verses feels visceral.
The following song, "A Shimmer in The Darkest Sea," is a more interesting track with a stronger melodic backbone and more appropriate vocals for the story and pitch. Following this is one of the two best tracks on the album, the momentous title track. It is here where one can hear the maturity of Disillusion, a perfect place to start listening to the band if you come to this album as either a fan of the band from their heyday or as a brand-new listener. "The Liberation" is a complete success vocally and compositionally, showing off the heights of creativity the band can reach through complicated melody. Calculated and successful risks keep intensity woven throughout the song even when the production keeps a satin-smooth control on the final product.
"Time to Let Go" is the best track on the album. It's memorable and easy to listen to, and the hook takes no time planting itself firmly into the spot in your brain that seeks gratification through music. Disillusion's somber and graceful approach to melo-death shines brightly in this track, exposing lyricism that compels and moves. Known for lyrics worth listening to, "Time to Let Go" asks the listener to take a closer look at what the rest of the album might be saying. Closing out the mere 7 tracks is "The Mountain"—another 12-minute epoch that transports the listener somewhere else. This ending track feels complete and gives the record a stunning, goosebump-triggering finale.
The Liberation is wildly successful for Disillusion and it is the best album one could expect from the group at this time. Marrying the concepts of their classic sound with new songwriting and the sparkling nuances of modern production created an album which effortlessly competes in 2019. Disillusion have yet again made a memorable melo-death album that feels more like watching a movie in IMAX than it does merely listening to a record. However, while The Liberation is both impressive and uncommon, there's something left to be desired as the expectations for this album were set incredibly high by the likes of Back to Times of Splendor. The Liberation delivers just short of the magic of that album, but not too far behind.