Friday, September 13, 2013

O’brother - Disillusion



As the first few notes of O’brother’ Disillusion play, I can’t help but hear something that wouldn’t feel out of place as background music in a Borderlands game.  So for about a minute, I’m thinking that O’brother may have jumped the shark.  After a very disappointing album in Garden Window, I was holding on to hope that they can recapture the magic from one of my favorite albums of all time, which was Death of Day, one of the finest pieces of rock art I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.  I was prepared to write the band off… until the music actually took off.  Now, I’m listening to what could very well be The Ocean’s new album biggest competition for album of the year. 

What has always set O’brother apart from other rock bands is their style.  I first discovered them due to their relationship with the post-hardcore masters Thrice.  Once I started listening to their music, I couldn’t stop.  Death of Day was on constantly in my car.  They were familiar, and yet so unique I can’t find anything that they compare to.  They are so dark and foreboding with their music.  So heavy, yet so light… one moment they are sludging through a deliciously brutal down-tuned riff and the next they’re flying into some beautiful almost “alt-country” style picking.  All while having some of the most brilliant vocals I’ve ever heard. 

All of this sort of fell to the wayside with the release of Garden Window, an album I could never get into.  I loved the title track and a few others,  but the pacing and energy were lacking.  It was a slow and trudging album that was depressing in all the wrong ways.  Thankfully, they’ve hit an absolute grand slam home-run with Disillusion. 

Tanner Merritt seriously shines on this album.  He puts on a master class of rock vocals.  He’s got soaring highs and brutal emotive vocals.  You never know where he’s going to go.  He can scream.  He can growl.  He can bust out an impressive falsetto.  He can croon.  He’s a freaking Swiss army knife and puts on the absolute best vocal performance I’ve heard since Thrice’s Vheissu, where Dustin Kensrue became my own personal legend.   I could seriously write an entire article just on Merritt’s incredible performance on this album.  However, no words would do it justice.  You just have to hear it for yourself.  There is NO hyperbole in me when I say it ranks in the top five vocal performances I’ve ever heard.  It may even be on top. 

The musicality is unparalleled as well.  The songwriting is top notch.  With a heavy and dark backdrop of auditory beauty, it’s like listening to a Salvador Dali painting.  This music is strange, twisted, and beautiful with almost no contemporaries that can come close to matching the quality.   I give Disillusion the highest marks.

--The Professor





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