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Album Review
O'Brother - Disillusion Album Cover

O'Brother - Disillusion

Reviewed by
8.5
O’BrotherDisillusion
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Record Label: Triple Crown
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
O’Brother reminds me of when I was younger and rock radio wasn’t completely awful. The band’s new album, Disillusion reminds me of a time when Alice In Chains, The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam ruled the radio. Before Limp Bizkit and butt-rock invaded, your local alternative rock radio station wasn’t the worst thing in the universe. O’Brother feels like a throwback band while also unleashing a fresh sound that’s chock-full of intensity, southern grit, and more. The kind of music that breaks windowpanes and blows out speakers, leaving you paralyzed in a gulf of distorted, deafening guitars.

The spacey slow burn of O’Brother’s second full-length is packed with sporadic, loud bursts of crushing guitar riffs and chords that’ll bring you to your knees. This is not an album for the faint of heart and that might disillusion (don’t worry – I already put a twenty in the douche bag jar) fans who enjoyed the wall-to-wall heaviness of Garden Window. But those who dedicate their time and dig beneath the surface level will find Disillusion to be one of the most satisfying listening experiences of 2013.

The record begins by inviting you to “Come Into The Divide,” a slow, hazy opening track set off in the distance slow yet surely builds into the driving force of “Parasitical.” The latter’s triple-guitar attack is absolutely crushing, reducing your bones to rubble, as Tanner Merritt’s vocals go from haunting to abrasive in an instant. The ambiance of “Context” is absolutely bruising and Merritt’s wails are the perfect counter to the track’s prog-meets-doom metal ambition.

“Perilous Love” is the best song Alice in Chains never wrote, its guitar tones dripping in a thick dissonance. Merritt painstakingly sings, “I try to escape from my mind but I’ve been tied with subliminal lines,” over the wavering tremolo of the song. The melodic “Perilous Love” is a practice of restraint, a struggle between the swirling melodies and swelling power chords, relenting a bit over the bridge. The groovy “Path of Folly” showcases the band’s continued improvement with its musicianship, resulting in a calm and elegant yet eerie number that’ll draw comparisons to heavyweights like Muse and Radiohead without sacrificing that O’Bro sound.

But O’Brother really flex its muscles on marathon tracks “Oblivion” and the title track; the former being the highlight of Disillusion. Merritt’s tortured vocals are on display again, ranging from desperate to dominant, while Johnny Dang and Jordan McGhin (along with Merritt)’s guitar work pulverize everything around them. The song goes quiet at the four-minute mark and hypnotically builds into its droning outro, putting your ears in a trance and displaying how layered and deeply intricate this composition is. In between these two tracks is the blistering “Transience,” a soon-to-be live staple that’ll get bodies moving in the pit (it also lets drummer Michael Martens cut loose a bit).

I’ve seen some people note that Disillusion feels like a concept on duality and I couldn’t agree more. Look no further than how the record closes with the yin and yang of “Absence” and “Radiance.” On the surface both songs feel similar, but dig deeper and you notice the jagged chaos of the former while the latter’s ambient moments calmly build and build before fading out. It brings the album full circle – leaving as quietly as it entered.

When I initially heard Disillusion months ago, I noticed and appreciated how different O’Brother’s approach was on this record. While it’s not a huge departure from Garden Window, the complexity and nuance attributed to this collection of songs is fairly evident. And after seeing some of these songs played in a live setting, that feeling was validated. So not only did Disillusion meet and pass expectations, it also has created even higher ones for LP3. Lesser bands would wilt under such pressure, but the way the Atlanta quintet continues to evolve and mature as a band should crush any doubts that O’Brother won’t continually put out excellence.

8.5/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 37
06:24 AM on 08/30/13
#2
Geology Rocks!
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I find this album less accessible than Garden Window was. It's darker, or more progressive or something. I need to spend some time with it, obviously.
06:39 AM on 08/30/13
#3
defmytones
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A lot to like about this album, looking really forward to seeing them in a few weeks on their headliner.

My only real gripe with it is the excessive build ups are too long at times; I start to lose interest.
07:02 AM on 08/30/13
#4
Blake Solomon
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haha it's chock-full, not chalk. sorry, that's just one of my favorite common misspelling thingys.
07:04 AM on 08/30/13
#5
Drew Beringer
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haha it's chock-full, not chalk. sorry, that's just one of my favorite common misspelling thingys.


welp
07:36 AM on 08/30/13
#6
WhatJulianSaid
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I really thought this would be the album that translates how great they are live but sadly it isn't. I definitely fall asleep after like 3 songs, not saying it's not good but I can't listen to it on any trips unless I want to take a grunge-based nap.
08:10 AM on 08/30/13
#7
tonyC4L
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I really thought this would be the album that translates how great they are live but sadly it isn't. I definitely fall asleep after like 3 songs, not saying it's not good but I can't listen to it on any trips unless I want to take a grunge-based nap.
Well that's disappointing to read, I just saw them live and that made me want to fall asleep
08:17 AM on 08/30/13
#8
WhatJulianSaid
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Well that's disappointing to read, I just saw them live and that made me want to fall asleep
There's no hope for you then lol
08:29 AM on 08/30/13
#9
Your Milkshake
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streamed this a while back. A couple of songs on here are undeniably brilliant and then another couple are just plain bad...they really hurt the flow of the album. This is coming from someone who likes stuff from this genre sludge/doom/alt/whatever
08:37 AM on 08/30/13
Deathco_019
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I definitely think the album is great, but I'm not sure I'm completely satisfied with it like I was with Garden Window. Everything about Disillusion is up to par with my expectations, except it bothers me a bit sonically. I enjoy the production/mixing on Garden Window more.

Then again, it took me several listens for Garden Window to really click with me and I'm sure Disillusion will be the same. I do like it. I just need to grow accustomed to it.

Also, I'm not too fond of Come Into The Divide. That might be the weakest song on this album with Path Of Folly being the other one I have in question. More listens will help determine my thoughts, obviously. This is just from my first three or four listens.
10:14 AM on 08/30/13
xXrunninglateXx
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I find this album less accessible than Garden Window was. It's darker, or more progressive or something. I need to spend some time with it, obviously.

I agree that it is less accessible than Garden Window but therein lies the critical mistake I made on the first few listens through: comparing it to the former. I really had to wipe the slate clean and decipher this beast (a.k.a. Disillusion) in a vacuum.

I absolutely love this album now based on its own merits and appreciate both albums for their own unique qualities. Simply put, if an unknown upstart band released this album with nothing else to compare it to, it would be praised as a monumentally great piece of work.
11:03 AM on 08/30/13
Jake Jenkins
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odd seeing people not feeling this. i think its easily better than garden window and is definitely going to make my top 20.

fantastic review as usual, drew.
11:52 AM on 08/30/13
Deathco_019
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I listened to it again today and the only song I'm still not sold on quite yet is Come Into The Divide. I think the album is really great and it's going to land in my top 10, or, at least, in my top 20. Still doesn't surpass Garden Window for me, but I didn't expect it to. I think they're both equally strong albums.

Oblivion is definitely the strongest track. I'm big into Context and Disillusion as well.
11:59 AM on 08/30/13
wheniflysolo
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amazing album. i beg you all to spend a little time with it. i promise it "clicks"
12:05 PM on 08/30/13
Deathco_019
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I agree that it is less accessible than Garden Window but therein lies the critical mistake I made on the first few listens through: comparing it to the former. I really had to wipe the slate clean and decipher this beast (a.k.a. Disillusion) in a vacuum.

I absolutely love this album now based on its own merits and appreciate both albums for their own unique qualities. Simply put, if an unknown upstart band released this album with nothing else to compare it to, it would be praised as a monumentally great piece of work.
I agree with this. This isn't Garden Window Pt. 2, which I've come to realize today. It's a beautiful beast on its own.

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