|Review: Dissection - The Somberlain|
Label: No Fashion Records
Year released: 1993
Review online: October 8, 2019
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Dissection are a band that needs no introduction at this point. Hell, I'm not even sure what I can really say about the band that basically invented Death/Black that hasn't already been said. I suppose I'll just start with the obvious part: The Somberlain was their debut album, and no matter how much of an unrepentant asshole leader Jon Nödtveidt was, it's a great freaking album.
When I say that this band invented Death/Black, I don't mean the modern variety of Death Metal playing with a blackened attitude. Rather, I mean that they mixed the atmosphere of Black Metal with the melodic edge and traditional riff sensibilities of early Melodic Death Metal to create a sound that even today you don't hear much of, made more impressive by the fact that Jon was only 18 when this was released. That said, even if you never heard Dissection before, you can hear their influence everywhere from early Dimmu Borgir to Amon Amarth in how they retain a highly melodic sound without sacrificing aggression or vice versa. Everything you need to know about why this band was great is beautifully summed up in the opening one-two punch of the massive "Black Horizon" and the jaw-dropping title track: furious tremolo strumming, venomous shrieks, and breathtaking rolling melodic breaks that rise like darkened clouds over a fading evening sky. The album never reaches these highs afterwards, and the last couple of tracks are a bit faceless, but songs like "Land Forlorn" and "In the Cold Winds of Nowhere" come dangerously close. They even through in some lovely acoustic pieces, which really helps to add some pacing to the album, with a baroque sensibility that permeates throughout.
There's an endless debate over whether this or Storm of the Light's Bane is the better album, and I'm certainly not going to end it with this review. For my money, Storm is the more consistent and influential album, but The Somberlain contains the better songs, arguably some of the very best in the genre. That said, both are classics that withstood the test of time and deserve a place in your collection.
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