DISBELIEF isn't trying to fit into anyone's metal pigeonholes. They've got the vocals of an extreme death metal band, but the intense, obsidian tone and impenetrable lurch of the most dark doom ghouls. And they do it all with a spartan, minimalist approach, all simple, pork-fisted riffs and an almost post-rock sense of drone and ambivalence.
But it doesn't take long to tire of their grim, dour slog through dense, pretentious track after midtempo track of sodden death metal pathos. The riffs are generally middling place-holders, and the vocals are hoarse and ragged, with pompous spoken parts occasionally laid over the death metal yowls for added maudlin drama. Most important, there's little in the way of songcraft here — obviously, this music is far too haughty and important for something as trivial as a chorus to enter the picture, but would coming away from the album with more than a couple seconds of it stuck in one's head be too much to ask?
Atmosphere for its own sake is fine, even when it comes at the expense of individual songs. But DISBELIEF evokes little emotion here in their grumpy flailing, besides a vaguely rubbed-raw sense of depressed irritation. Look at a song like "The Return of Sin" — it's not doomy enough to evoke any dread or sadness, trundling along with a droning, repetitive beat for ages and trading on a rudimentary riff that gets beaten into the ground long after it wears out its welcome. This isn't melancholy, it's monotony — the band lacks the primal alchemy to wield such simple tools and stay compelling, and the end result is boredom.
Even when the band kicks up the tempo a notch, as in "S.O.S. - Sense of Sight", they're just adding a faster drumbeat to the same churning, droning riffs. They manage to make even their fastest material plod, shackled to shockingly uninspired guitar work. While the idea of what they're trying to do is admirable — I certainly can't think of anyone else trying to make death metal quite like this at the moment -- the fact is, it's just dull as all hell, which is inexcusable for a band that's been around this long. There's too much out there right now — you just have to be better than this.