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Disillusion - Back To Times Of Splendor CD (album) cover

BACK TO TIMES OF SPLENDOR

Disillusion

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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Marc Baum
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is a release that is pretty much one of the great progressive metal records of 2004. The group "Disillusion" is a 3 man band from Leipzig, Germany. The group features the music of Vurtox. He is the band leader here and also has Rajk Barthel on guitars and Jens Maluschka on drums. Various musicians help fill out on some bass, piano and drums loops here and there. Vurtox plays guitars; both acoustic and electric, bass, keys and orchestral arrangements. Oh and he also does the vocals of which I can hear 3 distinct vocal styles.

This work was recorded over a 2 year period and it shows in the ways that the music is layered with lots of neat and cool sounds that almost completely fill the entire sonic spectrum. The production is expansive with all the instruments well represented although some of the lead guitars seem a little buried in the mix. Its almost like its Vurtox's labor of love in the way all the sounds seem to be in place and not much is left out.

Words seem hard to come up with to describe this bands unique mixing of all the most extreme metal that only adds up to a most sublime metal cd I've heard in a long long time. Bands like Opeth, Death, Anethema, Emperor, Soilwork or in some synth- passages Dream Theater come to mind, but that is only a try of discribing the mix of styles Disillusion use in their sound on "Back To Times Of Splendor". The Metal Blade label signed them due to the strength of one 2 song demo. Musically these guys play melodic Death Metal with hints of Black metal, Classic Rock, Prog Metal and also some symphonic darkness in the background soundscapes.

On all the pieces there is so much going on that one has to take sections of each song to describe what's happening. There are 6 songs that add up to 56:50.

The song I like the best is the title piece. It lasts 14:39 and by the time it ends you wonder where did the time go as this one is just simply a very well conceived and tight song with many subsections that are interesting and awesome. The song starts out with violin playing over lush keyboards laying out an orchestral motif. Around the 45 second mark the song explodes into a medium fast tempoed death metal chord/riff section. There is a transition that is kind of off sounding but it works ok. The full band is chugging along with the violin playing almost inaudibly over the top. At the 3 minute mark the "clean nervous very tense" voice begins singing. The song is about memories and reflections of past occurrences. The music changes to a heavy power metal 4/4 section with nice guitar melodies and the drums rolling along with the riffs. The solo guitar is very edgy and trebly. At the 4:30 mark the music slows down with spoken vocals "telling of lesson's learned", this section has a very killer riff and guitars. From around the 4:45 - 5:45 the music speeds up with the clean vocalist going slightly insane, "I must have seen it coming!".

The section goes on like this until about the 7 min mark where everything quiets down with thunder, rain and birds chirping over a keyboard synthesizer chordal section. Another change lets the bass and drums play a very cool medium fast figure that lasts until around the 8 min mark. Very sublime acoustic guitar begins playing a nice figure that is doubled tracked with another acoustic guitar playing arpeggios that make this a very nice section. Electric guitar takes a solo around the 8:38 point with the acoustic guitar rejoining, most exquisite. Clean vocals begin singing around the 9:12 mark about "morning sun beyond the clouds". At the 10:08 mark the heavy early death metal section comes back with full band raging and a very distorted guitar playing a solo. Next section has alternating vocals styles of clean and death metal singing until about the 12 min mark where he talks about a "dungeon". Death metal vocals at 12:30 mark with a very cool riff section that is made for head banging is next. The heavy section mutates and slows a bit to where the drums roll and the music ands at 14:39.

Now this is one of the longer tracks on this cd and it goes by without much in the way of boring the listener as so much is going on all the time. The other long track is called "the sleep of restless hours" and lasts 17:02, which marks the second BIG highlight of the album. Cinema in widescreen for the listener, where the epic songwriting reaches it's peak and crashes the album with an repeating instrumental part to an fitting end. Not forget the other, shorter songs, which are also excellent, with the beautiful half-ballad "a day by the lake" beeing my favourite out of them. The other tracks, called "...and the mirror cracked", "fall " and "alone I stand in fires" are found food for the Extreme Metal fans, where also haunting, melodic parts will give the listener a very good variation between the brutal parts.

All the tracks on the album are uniformly great and do take some listening to really hear and get just what is going on. This is very good and challenging stuff - the progression for the future of metal. Or like the sticker on the digipack tells: An album in cinemascope and widescreen!

It's only questionable how Disillusion will manage the follow-up, specially because the new album will be more straight forward, far less epic (statements Vurtox in an interview on www.powermetal.de). The final product will be available in June or July this year. During that time I will stand alone in fires, onward to times of splendor!

Rating:

9/10 points = 91 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 star / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Report this review (#63742)
Posted Sunday, January 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Epic, powerful, aggressive, Back to Times of Splendor.

From the first seconds of the first track you get a clear view what you are about to experience, the aggressive start just nails you down. But within the wall of sound there are great melodies and skillful playing with very much going on at the backround. Halfway through the track the second strong point of the album becomes obvious, as the beautiful and more calmer melodies start. A mix between extremes, and it works perfectly.

Every single song is great. The 2 long, epic songs are probably the key points but the rest do not pale in comparison. The lead singer, Vurtox, is impressive through the whole 56 minutes of this record, as he switches between growls and clean voceals. And the lyrics are complex and tell thoughtful stories. Back to Times of Splendor earned a place in my top 5 albums of all time.

And thanks to progarchives I found this gem. 5 stars.

Report this review (#73689)
Posted Friday, March 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Progressive heaviness!

Back To Times Of Splendor is the album I've needed for a long time, all that power couldn't come from any other prog band, headbangers be aware! With their mixture of all kinds of heavier kinds of metal, symphonic and progressive music the result is just amazing. Every song fits to the record as a pice of the perfect whole, not being too long or too short, their harsh sound contrasts with the symphonic parts like it was so kind of day and night play, exquisite opposites. My favourites are Alone I Stand In Fires and the title track, but every song catches the listener attention not giving chance to any distractions. Highly recommended to any heavy prog fan or metallians bored of the rough sound of thrash.

5/5 <3

Report this review (#130873)
Posted Monday, July 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Well this album just downright leveled me. Back to Times of Splendor is a colossal debut by a band who seemed to come out of nowhere. Disillusion play with the brute force of nu-metal bands, but the sophistication of, say, Opeth and Green Carnation. The songs cover a range of sounds and emotions - loaded with bludgeoning riffs and melodic solos, not to mention ethereal acoustic passages - led by the passionate frontman Vurtox. I don't know where that name came from, but clearly a mind that thought up that name is capable of writing equally awesome music. Vurtox boasts both a very intimidating growl and a unique clean voice capable of transmitting some stunning melodies. This is done over a thick wave of sound, largely based on guitars, bass and drums, but also includes some well placed keys and strings here and there.

What helps make this album so forceful and stunning is the production. The sound is so densely packed with layers of carefully selected riffs, chords, etc. with the most apposite tones one could think of. This is, simply put, a mammoth of a record, but a very expressionate mammoth.

The music here avoids the typical extreme progressive metal standards in favor of this simpler, denser sound emotion-ridden sound, and this album consequently stands out as an intriguing, yet accessible and wholly unique. Instead of trying to figure out crazy patterns on your repeated plays, you'll be trying to dig through layers of instrumentation for new parts you've never noticed before and seeing how they all fit together to create such a massive sound. And of course, with each listen you'll be taken upon an emotional journey as well. There are no particular standouts on this one; it is just a top to bottom treasure chest of an album. It stimulates your senses and your emotions with every passage. Stunning.

Report this review (#170107)
Posted Tuesday, May 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
horsewithteeth11
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Who are these guys, how did they come out of nowhere, and, more importantly, how did they make such a fantastic album?

Those are some of the thoughts that were rushing through my mind the first time I listened to this. Then later that day I listened to it again. Then I listened to it yet again. All in all, I listened to this album 3 times the day I got it. It's not really good based on technical playing, but rather the enormous layers one has to dig through to fully appreciate what is going on. And trust me; there are a lot of deep layers in this music. In describing it, I'd say that it's in the veins of melodic/progressive death metal, but with a more mature style of songwriting than your average melodic death metal band (think Opeth type of maturity). Combine that with many, many layers of music and the walls of sound (the good kind) from a band like The Mars Volta and you're starting to get an idea for what Disillusion sounds like on this album. It's taken me about half a dozen listens to even begin to fully grasp how deep I can sink myself in this album. Saying that this is multilayered music might be an understatement. Every time you listen to this, you're guaranteed to pick up several things in each song that you didn't notice the previous listen.

Unlike many other bands found in this genre on PA, Disillusion is more than willing to write a few extended songs. In fact, 2 of the 6 songs on here are of epic lengths, one around 14 1/2 minutes and the other clocks in at just over 17 minutes. Both of those songs, the title track and The Sleep of Restless Hours, are standout tracks for me. Both have great intros that really build the songs up nicely, the big difference being that the title track opens with violin and the concluding track opens with fairly dark fretless bass. Alone I Stand in Fires is the other standout track for me, and probably the overall heaviest on here, if for the massive amounts of sound thrown at you than for anything else. Vurtox (a pretty interesting nickname) has a very unique voice, balanced with a mix of clean vocals, which are more unique than his death growls. But he pulls both off very well.

I have yet to hear the band's follow-up because of the skepticism I've heard about it. Or maybe it's because I can't stop listening to this album. If you like Opeth, The Mars Volta, or want to hear a very unique and (slightly) more accessible album from this genre, this is a good one to try out. I'm hoping that their third release is as good as this one. This definitely deserves 5 stars for its creativity.

Report this review (#200480)
Posted Saturday, January 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Wow, is all this metal loving fan can say after listening to Back to the Times of Splendor-- even after the 10th time. This is one album whose aggressive playing, creative writing, and peerless production is stands out masterfully, especially considering that this is a debut!

In general, this album is packed with everything one hopes for in the genre. The 3 principle musicians put out a massive amount of sound, exceptionally proficient and genuinely exciting to listen to. Their songwriting is top notch, featuring clear and smart use of dynamics coupled with explosive intensity. Songs typically feature fast, heavy, aggressive melodies with valleys of soft passages and gentle vocals. A good example of this is in the opener, which begins with an enjoyable series of riffs and heavy hooks then dips suddenly into a dreamy atmosphere-- sounding very much like recent Anathema (briefly). The lengthy songs are, without exception, memorable and dramatic, not to mention brilliantly produced. There are deep layers of sound to explore here; excellent stuff!

Bartel's guitar playing is frenetic; his riffing positively burns, but even more enjoyable is his dexterous melodies, which are so powerful and substantial to the song's presence-- it's amazing that he can sustain them. He has a memorable sound which sets him apart from others in the genre. The other players do not disappoint either. Maluchska's drums explode with smart complexity-- he never over does it, but when he lays it on it sounds like the world is coming to an end!

Vocals deserve special mention as well. Vurtox's voice is stellar in its variety and energy. Typically, its an aggressive, melodic growl-- close to his singing voice but gravelly and hostile sounding... and very good. His clean vocals (present throughout) are just well done, lending a welcomed change of sound to the band's heavy veneer. His choruses are very memorable and catchy, to the point of demanding the need to sing-along to... if one can keep up.

Highly recommended to all metal fans!

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#202423)
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Pessimist
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars No one knows where this band came from, or much about their history, but after three mediocre demo efforts, they emerge with this utter masterpiece of progressive metal. This is an example of what good prog metal sounds like, and fortunately it is consistent throughout the album. This album is special for a number of reasons. First off, the voicing and density of all the instruments is like none I've ever heard before. It is so thick in texture, yet you can hear every single instrument in action. Secondly, Back To Times Of Splendour features three separate vocal styles: a not-quite-growling growl style that is a kind of hybrid of Jens Kidman and Gojira's Joe Duplantier, a rich and theatrical vocal style that reminds me of System of the Down's Serj Tankian and finally a clean vocal style which is nothing really special, but provides enough melody for the vocal harmony sections. Finally, the other reason that this album is so special is because it is probably the most aggressive album I've heard in a long time whilst still being one of the most beautiful metal albums ever written. That is very hard to achieve, and not many bands pull it off nowadays. The only band I can think of off hand that has done it recently is the mighty Opeth, and for me to compare Disillusion to this great band is a massive achievement on their part.

Now onto the songs.

And The Mirror Cracked - My personal favourite off the album, this one is simply perfect. It kicks off with a bang and provides one of the best intros in prog metal. I could literally listen to the choppy guitar harmony section all day long and not get remotely bored. We are then introduced to a number of different phases, including all three vocal styles (including vocal harmony sections) and a 2-3 minute mellow section. This song follows ternary form structure, but doesn't in any way seem repetitive. That is probably because it is so good. I'd love to go on about this song, but unfortunately my ranting will only spoil the experience. 10/10

Fall - Another strong track, if you like short songs. This is the most commercial song on the album, as it contains no growling and contains no prog metal pretentiousness like the previous track. A straightforward progressive metal song that is a small pleasure to listen to. 8/10

Alone I Stand In Fires - Another shorter track, Alone I Stand In Fires is another gem. The thickest textured song so far this song does take longer to kick in than the previous two, but later on it packs just as much punch (maybe even more?). There is a lot of growling here, so don't approach this with the same mentality of Fall. This is a seemingly long and heavy ride, but pays off in the end. An epic in a small package. 9/10

Back To Times Of Splendour - Cited by many as the best track off the album, I don't see it as that. It is no way on par with the first track and I prefer the previous. However, this is phenomenal all the same. We have two killer riffs within this long song, a neo-classical intro and a great chorus and mellow middle section. We are taken off on a journey, and it is for me the only one on the album that does. It isn't perfect though. It has its faults: for example, I normally skip to the quiet section from about 6:10, as the area in between is just a mess. An attempt to build up intensity that kind of... well fails. Other than that, it is a great tune. 8/10

A Day By The Lake - The most progressive song on the album, this is the one that classic prog lovers will enjoy (if they see past the heavy texture in some parts). A slow build up takes you through a slightly post-metal musical adventure and like post-metal, it is quite dreamy and calm. The second masterpiece on the album, this one is special. Melodic, beautiful and at the same time fractionally brutal in places, this ticks every box for me. Yet it is so short, but since when has that been a bad thing? 10/10

The Sleep Of Restless Hours - The second epic, I do like this song. In a way I prefer it to the title track, as it is heavier with more great riffs. The intro is fantastic, I love acoustic guitar passages in metal and this particular passage is excellent. Overall though, this song is a weird one. It doesn't seem to go anywhere, and the length is also a problem for me. I've always really had a problem with prog metal songs over 15 minutes, but then again, this one does remain quite interesting, as with other exceptions like Meshuggah's I. Some masterpiece material here leads me to rate this no lower than 9/10, and I don't feel guilty rating it that as it just contains some of my pet musical hates. Most prog metallers will be stunned by this tune, so that's the mark it gets.

Well this album only lost 6 marks for me, which means it's a 4.5/5. Round that up and you get a masterpiece, no doubt about. This album definitely deserves its place in the best albums of the genre, and I will enforce that even further. Some really original stuff here, and the majority of progressive metal fans will find a lot in Back In Times Of Splendour.

Report this review (#202486)
Posted Thursday, February 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the best albums I've heard recently is this release of the german progressive metal band Disillusion. They released a few demos and EP's before this but with Back To Times Of Splendor they really had a fantastic start.

The first song and the mirror cracked is simply amazing. Powerful/heavy start with a mellow guitar driven part in the middle and the same powerful/heavy part in the end. One of the best start-up songs I've heard. After this amazing start up we have two shorter songs(Fall and Alone I stand in fire) which are maybe not that good as the first song. Powerful and well played songs but without anything special. Back to the time of splendor is the fourth song and the title of this song was used for the name of album. It starts with a relaxed violin driven part then it goes a few minutes with very heavy and sometime extreme sections. Then we have again a mellow part(somehow the same structure as the first song) and in the end heavy sections. The fifth song is simply my favorite on this release. It follows somehow the soft passage of the first and fourth songs. Probably this song will be enjoyed by most of the classic prog rock lovers. The last song is the longest song from this album with a very nice intro and somehow similar with And the Mirror Cracked and Back to Times of Splendor.

I would say that all the long songs have the same structure and compositional approach. This album contains some very inspired moments which is an important ingredient for making it a favorite one beside the general good feeling after a few spins already. What we have here is not a masterpiece but a very good prog metal album with extreme influences but not so powerful to consider this release in the tech/extreme prog metal sub-genre. Fans of progressive metal will be probably delighted and that's why I recommend this. But fans of other related genres may check this because it has very good songs. I always liked metal bands from Germany(Helloween, Edguy etc) and Disillusion prove me again that I have a special affinity for the bands coming from this country.

Report this review (#210591)
Posted Monday, April 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Despite some rumors that Vurtox was a Klingon, it has been confirmed that he is indeed human, and not to mention the creative force behind a very compelling progressive metal album.

I'm not one to be easily swayed by progressive metal, especially the technical kind, but positive reviews spurred me to check Back to Times of Splendor out, and I do not regret it.

This is a big, heavy sound, but it never seems overly so, or cheesy in my opinion. The guitars have a slightly-out-of-tune quality that I have to believe is more a band trademark than any production limitation. The vocals are largely positive, especially the harmonies, even though I only appreciate harsh and growling vocals in moderation.

Cracked may be the highlight for me, as it covers a lot of musical territory in its relatively short duration, at least short in prog terminology. The epics, Splendour and Restless, are also highlights, the former with a memorable outtro, perhaps similar to Opeth's Deliverance (though probably not as mindblowing), and the latter with a great mellow buildup, but unfortunately also containing a cop-out false ending.

Overall, a quite solid metal album--I was generally surprised and taken aback by some of the power contained within. Despite all the positives, there are surprisingly some fairly simple songwriting techniques that Vurtox failed to acknowledged--or perhaps intentionally decided to stick it to the man--that could have bolstered this solid release even higher.

Report this review (#285616)
Posted Tuesday, June 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Disillusion hit the world with an exceptionally strong modern prog metal album, very eclectic in style and borrowing as much from classic 90's prog metal as from melodic progressive death metal and symphonic black metal.

In a way they sound like an upgraded version of Green Carnation, maintaining a similar epic vibe, but adding more adventurous and varied songwriting. Unlike many prog metal acts, Disillusion won't fish for your attention by daft or flashy musicianship but by their outstanding compositions, which remain dynamic, engaging and accessible for the entire 57 minute duration of the album. An exceptional achievement in a genre where albums usually wear themselves out before they're halfway through. It's quite the contrary here. The quality of the material even keeps getting better and better as the album goes along.

The band is categorised as Tech/Extreme but I wouldn't give too much weight to that. There are death metal elements but generally the music is very melodic, progressive and certainly not technical. To a certain extent you could compare the music to Opeth but there are a lot of elements that set them apart from the Swedes. The vocals for instance also vary inbetween death metal grunts and clean vocals, but the singing voice is more theatrical and anthemic then Opeth. It sits quite close to the melodic vocal moments of Borknagar and Dimmu Borgir. Also the keyboards add a decisive symphonic element. Luckily Disillusion avoids the melodic cheese and power metal clichés of much prog metal acts.

Highly recommended to fans of modern metal in the vein of Green Carnation, Opeth, Edge Of Sanity. At least 4 stars in one of my highest rated subs, Tech/Extreme.

Report this review (#285999)
Posted Friday, June 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars From the European Strongest country comes: the greatest album ever!

First of all, i read Prog-Archives warning about ratings but I really love this record. So everything I say about this I will be a suspect and you, the reader, may not want to take my word for it, but please listen to it.

The first song i hear from this album was the title track "Back To Times Of Splendor" and to this day it's still my facourite metal song ever! And that's saying something seen that I like a lot of genres inside Metal music. So, whe I heard this song it really grabbed me and I listened to it for a long long time until I got the full album and I fell in love by this band, just for them to let me down with "Gloria".

But anyway, "Back To Times Of Splendor" starts of with a bang whith the one of the most technical riffs in the whole album, the beginning of "And The Mirror Cracked" blows me away and it will surely blow you too. It ends on a progressive tune with "The Sleep Of Restless Hours", the 17min lenght song.

This album mixes the heaviest sound found in European Death Metal but it also brings to you the most melodic parts ever heard in Progressive Metal. Of course I'm a suspect because this album threw me against my ceiling and slowly brought me to the floor on angels wings. The drums are a major factor on the characteristic sound of this band alongside the techincal bass and the heavy recorded guitars and masterfully played.

You can expect a full album. This song just gives you a sound that many of you Melodic Death Progressive fans were looking for. Opeth or Enslaved fans will find here other band to worship (or at least other album). It joins here impressive progressive progressive elements and well placed melodic parts with very well played riffs, with the "brutalness" of Death Metal.

To sum:

It is a must have album! You must not miss this opportunity to hear a powerfull progressive metal masterpiece.

Report this review (#306897)
Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Back To Times Of Splendor' - Disillusion (8/10)

Disillusion is one of those bands I went into listening blindly, going in based solely on the good words of others concerning this album. One of those bands that seems to suddenly cranked their spirits into high gear for this one, the band's debut album has impressed me, to say the least. From what I've heard, the band had only come out with a handful of decent, if not great demos and this came as something of a shock to anyone that had heard the band before. Precedent aside however, 'Back To Times Of Splendor' is an excellent piece of melodic progressive metal that can feel scattered at times, but really leaves an impression on the listener that begs a listen after another.

When speaking of the sound of this band, there is a real mix of disparate progressive metal styles here. Of course, there is the atypical time signatures that one might generally associate with the work of Dream Theater, but there are also many heavier elements here, such as the influence of melodic death metal and the Scandinavian 'viking metal' sound. In any case, the end result is heavy metal that maintains a very melodic sound, and balances equal shares of technicality and epic symphonic sounds. Rounding off the sound is the vocal work of a man credited here only as Vurtox; whose deep voice has a great vibrato to carry even the weakest musical moments here through.

In terms of the songwriting, there are both shorter and longer tracks here, both of which are given a progressive metal do-over. The album's opener 'And The Mirror Cracked' gives the greatest first impression, firing on all cylinders as it opens up furiously. Here, the growls of Vurtox can also be heard, which generally do not amount to much, unfortunately. It is the clean vocals that dominate each track here however. The album is quite good and filled with great musical ideas. It comes close to even being a masterpiece, although this title is robbed due to a feeling that some of the ideas are less developed than they should have been. While the epics here are quite well composed and rarely feel boring, it does feel as if the album could have done without some of the fat on its bones.

Report this review (#422039)
Posted Thursday, March 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Disillusion's debut album is a genius fusion of aggressive death metal and the prog metal sound of the 1990s. It's most impressive for the way the band manage to combine the best of both genres whilst avoiding their less appealing aspects; on the prog metal side, the band bring in all the technically complex and intricate playing and songwriting of the subgenre whilst the death metal aggression allow them to avoid the cheesiness prog metal can stumble into. At the same time, the progressive metal song structures prevent the death metal side of the band from running into a simplistic rut. On the whole, it's a recipe for success.
Report this review (#662555)
Posted Saturday, March 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of those 'hidden gems' that people sometimes rave about.

Completely unheard of, the band 'Disillusion' released a masterpiece of aggressive and challenging piece of progressive metal that combines elements from bands such as Opeth and System of a Down. The album opens with 'A Mirror Cracked' - which has become my favourite song in this album. When I first listened to this - the vocals seemed to annoy me but not completely kill the mood. The riffs are absolutely killer, the drive is fantastic and songwriting is phenomenal. The clean section after the 2nd chorus is just so gorgeous. There are obvious Opeth elements but they are quite transparent - anyhow, this certainly should appear to 'Opethians'.

'Fall' continues the riff madness. Instantly you are swept into magnificent progressive metal riffing and absolutely fantastic vocal performance by the frontman 'Vurtox' (yes the vocals are sometimes a little flat but it doesn't really matter at all here) . There is not a single bad moment in this shorter piece - magnificent!

'Alone I stand in Fires' is probably the weakest of the album. While it continues with much of the same mood than the previous songs, it doesn't really do anything special. There is one very cool super heavy section in the middle of the song which is really cool.

The album centerpiece and the title track 'Back to Times of Splendor' opens with a theme violin melody. Yes, the first 3 songs are super heavy blasting progressive metal and then you get a freaking violin opening up a song. The song then evolves into very Opethian riff and aggressive heavy vocals. There are so many fantastic riffs building up this song into the chorus which utilizes the theme melody with the violin. The song goes through many fantastic movements and melodies. The highlight of the album certainly - while the first song is perhaps my favourite, this is in terms of aesthetics a better song.

As the end of the album nears. 'A Day By the Lake' is given. It is a fantastic mellower song that builds itself into a fantastic climax. Starts slowly with echoed guitars and superb drumming. The bass line is fantastic as well (booooaahh boing). I love this song to death.

The final song 'The Sleep of Restless Hours' is another long epic. Going through various stages like it's predecessor 'Back to Times of Splendor'. This song is another killer track which seem a little streched at the end. But the riffs here are again 5/5 and the clean vocal melody is very nice. The final 3-4 minutes is an instrumental, while it's good it doesn't really do much other than fill the album.

In overall, this is a must have for Opeth fans. The harsh vocals are going to annoy you at first but once you get over them, you are in for a treat. The production is a little too loud for my taste and the audio seems to clip a little here and there. In any case, easy 5/5.

Report this review (#1569929)
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2016 | Review Permalink
FragileKings
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I was pretty sure I'd already written a review for this album as I had in mind to do it at least twice since acquiring it a few years back. I was checking out progressive metal bands and somehow stumbled across this one either on Amazon or in the iTunes store.

This is the only album I have by Disillusion but my opinion of it and the band it really high thanks to this release. This is a band that combines many of the elements I enjoy in heavy metal and progressive rock. We have longer songs with complex and varied song structure, fast technical playing, an excellent rhythm section with a great drummer, awesome riffs and a good variety between high speed playing and slower riffs with melodic riffs as well, and softer parts with piano or strings added in as a welcome mood changer but without sounding superfluous. In the two longer tracks, "Back to Times of Splendor" and "The Sleep of Restless Hours" there are parts that stray from the heavier death metal side and wander determined into more progressive territory. There are no flambouyant instrumental sections of blatant exhibitionism. Instrumental passages can be technical but used with a purpose within the song structure.

As has been mentioned in other reviews, the album does an excellent job of combining the technical side of prog metal with the brutal side of death metal. I listened to the album again for the first time in a year or so and once again found myself impressed with the skill and song writing. In particular, the guitar sound is a winner for me. The production quality is also great and only in two parts where the music intentionally becomes chaotic and noisy does the clarity of the sound disappear.

There is only one thing that doesn't totally impress me and that is the clean vocals of Andy Schmidt (Vurtox). There's nothing wrong with them and they affect a certain theatrical sense that suits the music very well. But they make me think of a hardcore punk singer who has decided to sing cleanly with a hint of an operetic tone. The two-part harmoney vocals reduce this effect and the brutal vocals are just fine as they are. Those clean vocals are the only thing that doesn't sit exactly right with me. A minor detail really.

That being stated, once again I will emphasize what a terrific album this is musically. I'm not sure where Disillusion went after this. I think I listened a bit to their sophomore album when I considered which album to get but at the time was more impressed with ths one. An easy four stars!

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Posted Thursday, June 29, 2017 | Review Permalink

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