Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Album Review: O'Brother - Disillusion

Album Rating: B+
In a day and age where rock music is almost extinct in pop culture and media alike, it's tough to come across any band that still plays music in the vein of groups that defined rock. Bands such as Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins are still alive and putting out music to their devoted fan bases, but new rock bands are few and far between. Of course there are all different sub-genres that divide the current music population, but the groundwork isn't represented nearly well enough. This is where O'Brother come in. The Atlanta natives are as close to the source as you can get, and one of the few bands active who aren't afraid to embrace their roots, while progressing forward. On their latest album, Disillusion, O'Brother have created a sound for themselves. It's not a stark departure from 2011's Garden Window, but it shows progression, experimentation, and maturation. 

The lack of distortion in popular music is unbelievable, but for every hit song that graces the airwaves this year that's more on the lighter side, O'Brother make up for with hard-hitting crunchy guitars. Each track is menacingly gritty, and the guitar tones are dirty and large. The production of album is incredible, with soundscapes that enthrall your ears in waves of noise. Tanner Merritt's vocals are spot on, and his howling punctuates the music. His voices takes the reins on many of the tracks and is spotlighted very well. "Transience" displays his unique delivery and reminds us that bands have a frontman for a reason.

O'Brother bring forth other sub-genres of rock in their music. They tread the line of post-hardcore/metal gracefully, and have characteristics of sludge/stoner metal. "Perilous Love" is one of those songs that drudges through at half-speed, being syrupy thick and melodic. Dreamlike in fashion, it's the more subdued moments of Disillusion that contain the band's beauty, while the counteracting loud ones display the emotion and anguish. It's method that works wondrously well for O'Brother, and it's a bit disappointing that they don't explore into it deeper and more often.

Disillusion is a length album though, and some listeners may get turned off by that. Half of the songs pass the five minute mark, but those are the tracks that are most worth hearing. The title track and "Oblivion," being two of them that showcase the group's complete ideas. These sprawling songs cover the entire ground that O'Brother have built their album upon. Containing all aspects of their music and showing both the lightest and darkest parts of the band, they are true well crafted pieces. It almost feels like the album should conclude at that point, as all emotional vessels have been drained. 

In no way is Disillusion a bad album. It isn't even just a good album, but borders the line between getting there and great. O'Brother is definitely a band to keep on your radar and Disillusion is a must-listener for any fan of straight-up rock music. If O'Brother is able to compact and trim their ideas, in just the slightest amount, they might have a masterpiece on their hands in the near future.

Track list:

1. Come Into The Divide
2. Parasitical
3. Context
4. Perilous Love
5. Path Of Folly
6. Oblivion
7. Transience
8. Disillusion
9. Absence
10. Radiance

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