DISAVOWED – Revocation of the Fallen (2020)REVIEW

As classic brutal death metal was stomped back underground circa 2007 or so plenty of the heartiest cockroaches slicked the floor for the coming wave of tech-death unanimity to come, yet the heel n’ grind attack upon Disavowed doesn’t seem to have left more than an attractive dent in the Amsterdam-based crew’s carapace thirteen years later. Disavowed were heralded back in the day as an apex predator for the cause circa 2001 where their debut full-length (‘Perceptive Deception‘, 2001) served as an archetype and exemplar brutal death metal machine that’d bridge 90’s brutal death metal with the severity of its second wave of intensifying barbarism. Most folks knew them through by association via Pyaemia (sharing drummer Robbert Vrijenhoek) or simply because they were one of the strongest bands to hit the early days of Unique Leader Records where a style deeply influenced by Suffocation found them fitting in squarely while maintaining an ultra straightforward station. This was by virtue of Disavowed being a legitimate ‘old school’ brutal death metal band having lived a previous life throughout the 90’s as Nocturnal Silence (see: ‘Plateau‘, 1998) on the cutting edge of the Netherlands unreal knack for brutality. Generally speaking, if you already know and love Disavowed you’ve some taste for classic brutal death metal and likely have light patience for deathcore, thuggin’ bass drops, and all manner of trends; If I’m correct in that assumption you are duly primed and more than ready to receive the third LP from the band, ‘Revocation of the Fallen’.

And as an aging fuckhead who was just getting into brutal death metal back in 2001 let me be the first to say, all that shit gives me a headache anymore. I’m all for nostalgia but goddamn does revisiting ‘Perceptive Deception’ rattle my brain like nothing else today. Clearly I’ve gone soft? Or, hey I’d like to think Disavowed have simply had the time to find a dynamic yet characteristic sound on ‘Revocation of the Fallen’, an album that builds upon some of the ideas of its predecessor (‘Stagnated Existence‘, 2007) while amplifying the technical side of its brutal rip. They’d never stopped playing festivals and shows beyond the exit of their original drummer, having gone through three replacements since, but Disavowed hadn’t put anything official to tape for thirteen years. The right drummer is everything in this sub-genre and Septimiu Hărşan (CodeRed, ex-Pestilence) has been their go-to guy since 2015. The fellow is incredibly talented, probably one of the most underrated drummers willing to touch the brutal side of death metal today and he serves as a major highlight to the performances on ‘Revocation of the Fallen’. That said, this is Disavowed and they’re still not fucking around with experimental music beyond some tighter technical whips along the way.

‘Perceptive Deception’ made a point to slow down and chug around to break up the constant beatings of the past and make room for some odd-timed rhythms (see: “Dogmatic Conceit”) and attempt some of the more intricate things folks leadership in Deeds of Flesh, Spawn of Possession, and Defeated Sanity were doing at the time (see: “The Eternal Validity”) and this’d been a notable point of divergence despite losing the ultra-violence that made Disavowed‘s first album such a beast. ‘Revocation of the Fallen’ is so far removed in time from past works that it almost feels inappropriate to start gauging its sound against stuff from 2001 and 2007, each release offered a paradigm shift for the band whereas this third album embodies a solidarity with classic standards and isn’t necessarily built on the backs of their own corpses. The pop and wobbling bass presence of Nils Berndsen is a fine example of hitting upon auld classic sensibility that never went out of style, a bit of early Cryptopsy and ‘Pierced From Within’ twanging around the edges of the experience while amplifying the heavier grooves of the rhythm guitar work. This sponginess helps to frame the rhythmic voicing of the album more squarely, that is to say that the guitars are the warrior here and the rest of the instrumentation serves to amplify their outrageous front-and-center technical attack. Beyond maintaining their characteristic hard as nails brutal death metal style Disavowed are not redundant in this sense and haven’t wasted their time plainly hearkening back to 2001.

There are several highlights here on what is inarguably a dense, mind-crushing and long sharpened record but you’ll have to deal with its sound design kicking your ass free of its flesh first. Although he pulls out all the stops on the title track, “Defractured in Contemplation” is probably where vocalist Robbe K. (Arsebreed) first starts to throw in the most vein-popping displays of technique; Some guttural pulls chime in a bit harder in a few places on the second half of the album but those first seven tracks or so are where he competes most heavily with the guitar work. “Revocation of the Fallen” is the main centerpiece of the full listen for its slapped bass riffs and relentless progression but it was “Deformed Construct” that kept pulling me back into the full listen, reminding me why I liked brutal death metal back in the early 2000’s without having to go back through piles of trashcan sounding CD-Rs bought from MySpace bands. To be clear I don’t mean that it sounds like shit but rather that the urgency, over the top severity, and inventive groove of that era is still apparent in Disavowed‘s gig today. Like I’d suggested earlier, I’m a puss anymore and even a solid 35 minute brutal death album is a lot for my tenderized mind but goddamn does Disavowed get it right on ‘Revocation of the Fallen’. It should feel like solidarity for long-standing fans and something sharp and refreshingly straightforward for the modern day brutalist. High recommendation.

High recommendation.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Revocation of the Fallen
LABEL(S):Brutal Mind Productions
RELEASE DATE:July 31st, 2020
BUY/LISTEN/STREAM:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRES:Brutal Death Metal

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