"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Disarmonia Mundi - "Nebularium + The Restless Memoirs EP" (CD)

Disarmonia Mundi - "Nebularium + The Restless Memoirs EP" CD cover image

"Nebularium + The Restless Memoirs EP" track listing:

1. Into D.M.
2. Blue Lake
3. Mechanichell
4. Guilty Claims
5. Burning Cells
6. Demiurgo
7. Nebularium
8. Awakening

The Restless Memoirs EP
1. Across The Burning Surface
2. Flare
3. Spiral Dancer
4. Kneeling On Broken Glass
5. Chester
6. Ghost Song

Reviewed by on August 24, 2009

"The track that closes 'Nebularium,' 'Awakening,' is one of the most beautiful instrumentals I've ever heard, regardless of genre."

I've always said that great music is timeless. You put it on and it sounds like it could've been recorded yesterday. My CD collection's full of albums like that, ranging from "Master Of Puppets" to the Beatles' "Abbey Road" and Willie Nelson's "Red Headed Stranger."

To those hallowed ranks, I proudly add Disarmonia Mundi's "Nebularium," which was initially recorded in 2000, and remastered by Coroner Records for its first worldwide release in 2009.

As with a lot of the Italian bands I've gotten the chance to listen to lately, Disarmonia Mundi isn't content to color within the lines of a particular genre. Sure, the album's advertised as being "melodic death metal," but trust me when I say you've never heard death metal with such a variety of melodies.

Take for example the album's best track, "Blue Lake." Sure, it starts with a growl and a galloping guitar riff and features million-mph kick drums. A little after four minutes in, that gives way to a clean jazz-funk guitar break that then snaps back into full on metal mode. Ettore Rigotti does much of the heavy lifting here, playing guitar, drums, keyboards and providing the "clean" vocals. It's obvious that this is mostly his musical vision, but that's not to say that the rest of the band is following blindly.

Benny Bianco Chinto's harsh vocals combine well with Rigotti's clean ones, while Mirco Andreis' bass playing meshes perfectly with Rigotti's drumming. Simone Palermiti's guitar work is also excellent. I particularly like the way the guitars blend in the quiet moments of "Guilty Claims." The solo is ethereal over the top of the clean rhythm part, right until things roughen up again.

Those who yearn for death metal's traditional sounds won't be disappointed either, as "Burning Cells" blazes along at warp speed, with slower sections that don't lose much in the way of heaviness.

The track that closes "Nebularium," "Awakening," is one of the most beautiful instrumentals I've ever heard, regardless of genre. Gentle acoustic guitar provides the framework, over which the cleanest, quietest electric guitar solo echoes. I wish I could say that "The Restless Memoirs EP" measured up to "Nebularium," but it really doesn't.

Recorded between 1999 and 2006, the disc features only Rigotti and vocalist Claudio Ravinale, and the absence of the influence of the rest of the band is keenly felt, as the songs lack the variety of sounds on the first disc. Only the last song, "Ghost Song," has anything that veers from the death metal norm.

Then again, I'm probably not being fair in expecting an EP recorded over a span of seven years to have the same kind of continuity and excellence as their debut full-length did. And honestly, there's nothing wrong with any of the songs here.

Still, while I know that I'll be listening to "Nebularium" for a long time to come, I know that "The Restless Memoirs EP" will probably not get near as many spins.

Alternating between beauty and brutality, Disarmonia Mundi's "Nebularium" is a metal masterpiece that transcends genre.

Highs: "Nebularium" is uniformly excellent, but "Blue Lake" and "Guilty Claims" are metal standouts. "Awakening" is, quite simply, a beautiful acoustic piece.

Lows: "The Restless Memoirs" EP is quite a bit more by the numbers, though not bad.

Bottom line: "Nebularium" is a masterpiece, weaving together a variety of metal and non-metal sounds.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)