Label: Cursed Records
2017 was a great year for death metal, with a lot of the old stalwarts releasing killer albums – Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Autopsy… they all absolutely nailed it. Judging by Disequilibrium, the debut full-length from Fallen Utopia, the new generation of death metal acts are determined not to have the elder statesmen of the genre hog all the accolades though, as this is a storming piece of modern death. Full of crushing riffs, moments of technical prowess, and moving with a self-confidence that is utterly infectious, Disequilibrium is a very strong debut indeed.
The sound of Disequilibrium is what you’d expect from modern death metal. Down-tuned guitars, pummeling drums, and vocals from the very depths of hell, this is an album that is absolutely crushing. There’s an undeniable hardcore feel to some of the riffs, as they have that kind of punked-up, muscular feel and energy that mixes so well with the uncompromising nature of death metal; and it’s these that often give the album an extra sense of energy. These songs seethe with physical violence, and are sure to result in some punishing mosh pit action when aired live.
But whereas some strands of modern death metal can end up feeling regressive when making use of such hardcore-influenced riffs, Disequilibrium uses them to great effect. That they sit well alongside some excellent moments of technicality – best evidenced on the restless ‘Omnivore’, a song that destroys all in its path – demonstrates that Fallen Utopia are a band who know how to write modern death, and use its different elements to compliment one another. There’s even a graceful piano section that introduces ‘Macrocosm’, and acoustic guitar during ‘Coma’, which adds an unexpected emotional element to the tracks, meaning that Disequilibrium isn’t just about playing harder, faster, and heavier – though there’s plenty of that, too.
These aren’t the only moments that add extra texture and character to the album. The bass-heavy riff during ‘Coma’ is excellent, as is the ominous background melody during ‘As the World Falls Silent’. Combined with the core elements of modern death – the pummeling down-tuned riffs, the commanding vocals, the relentless drumming – it shouws that there’s a real intelligence to these songs, making Disequilibrium an album that has staying power. The technical elements also add something extra to the album, and though they don’t quote go in to the same territories as, say, Origin, they’re not too far apart.
The album closes with the longest track on the album, ‘From Void to Chaos’, that’s arguably the best song on here. An extended string-backed acoustic section gets the song going, before it moves in to death metal territories. Adopting a slightly slower tempo than the rest of the album, and featuring some fine classic metal influenced melodic leads during its closing sections, it possesses a real emotional and cathartic power, without sacrificing any of the muscle and strength displayed earlier on. It’s a fine way to see out a fine album, and Fallen Empire is of such quality that it should see Disequilibrium be counted amongst the bigger names of modern death metal.