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Disarmonia Mundi - "The Isolation Game" (CD)

Disarmonia Mundi - "The Isolation Game" CD cover image

"The Isolation Game" track listing:

1. Cypher Drone
2. Structural Wound
3. Perdition Haze
4. Building An Empire Of Dust
5. Stepchild Of Laceration
6. The Isolation Game
7. Blacklight Rush
8. Glimmer
9. Ties That Bind
10. Losing Ground
11. Same Old Nails For A New Messiah
12. Digging The Grave Of Silence

Reviewed by on December 14, 2009

"If you're looking for some extreme metal that will challenge your senses, you should play 'The Isolation Game.' Just don't be surprised if you find yourself buzzing past a couple confusing tracks after the first listen."

With its melding of progressive and death metal elements with electronica, Disarmonia Mundi has become my favorite Italian band (Lunarsea and At The Soundawn are currently tied for second). So when I opened the mailbox and found the band's latest album, "The Isolation Game" inside, you'd better believe it was in my CD player within moments.

Though the disc doesn't come close to matching their debut album "Nebularium," which got a deluxe reissue this year, it's a mostly great bit of extreme metal. I like the fact that Ettore Rigotti, who plays all the instruments and provides the clean vocals, and Claudio Ravinale, who handles all the growls and screams, aren't content to just play one type of music — or even one type of music at a time. Unfortunately, on a couple of "Isolation Game" tracks, they let that tendency get away from them, resulting in songs that are hard on the ears and the brain.

The disc opens in spectacular fashion with "Cypher Drone." An electronic-sounding synth part is quickly joined by a bruising guitar riff and drums. I love how it alternates between an almost-danceable pop sound and death metal at the drop of a hat. Also, guest guitarist Olof Morck of Nightrage has a great solo. "Structural Wound" and "Perdition Haze" both continue the excellence, with parts of the main riff to "Haze" reminding me a bit of early Black Label Society.

Unfortunately, the album falters with "Building An Empire Of Dust," which is far too chaotic, with a jerky riff and drum part that are quite hard to follow. The chorus, featuring both Ravinale and Rigotti's vocals sounds a bit like what happens if you try to tune in two different radio stations at the same time.

Unfortunately, the band takes the same approach on "Stepchild Of Laceration." It's too bad too, because there's enough good moments sprinkled in the song to make me think about how great it could've been with a more focused approach. The title track, "The Isolation Game," offers muscular mid-tempo riffing that gives way to Rigotti's best melodic vocals.

The instrumental "Glimmer" is an enjoyable distraction, with clean guitars and distant-sounding drums. It's a nice palate cleanser that lets you rest up for the carnage of the next four tracks.

After getting clobbered by the brutal "Ties That Bind," "Losing Ground," "Same Old Nails For A New Messiah," and "Digging The Grave Of Silence," it's only the most resilient headbanger that won't be relieved to end the album with the gorgeous (and slow) instrumental "Beneath A Colder Sun."

Despite some of the sonic confusion in tracks like "Building An Empire Of Dust" and "Stepchild Of Laceration," I have to say that this album sounds great on whatever system I've played it on. Heck, there's even space in the mix for a few moments of bass guitar — a rarity for death metal.

If you're looking for some extreme metal that will challenge your senses, you should play "The Isolation Game." Just don't be surprised if you find yourself buzzing past a couple confusing tracks after the first listen.

Highs: "Cypher Drone," "The Isolation Game," and "Glimmer."

Lows: "Building An Empire Of Dust" and "Stepchild Of Laceration"

Bottom line: A mostly great bit of extreme metal, dragged down by a couple of bum tracks.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)