American heavy metal has sadly become such a struggling scene across the country. This fact makes it difficult for American bands to win attention from labels and international scenes. That being said however, the United States is home to one of the most promising up-and-coming heavy metal bands, six-piece, Disforia hailing from Salt Lake City, Utah. Disforia is still a very young band, forming in 2007, with only two EP’s under their belt until the release of their debut full length album, The Age of Ether, in June, 2014. The young age of the band does not hold them back, as their debut album is easily one of the strongest albums I have heard so far this year. Mixing progressive elements with power and traditional heavy metal, imaginative lyrics and imagery, and the addition of Blind Guardian’s Hansi Kursch and Brittney Hayes (Unleash the Archers) as guest vocalists, this album is a stunning accomplishment.
The album begins with the quiet and solemn intro “Essence” that quickly jumps into the very aptly titled track, “Chaos”. With intricate keyboard work and strong drumming, this song is the perfect way to set the vibe for the rest of the album. The atmosphere takes on a more suspenseful vibe as the vocals enter, over palm-muted guitar, but the track doesn’t lose it’s drive. “Chaos” has a surprisingly great balance of heavy metal and symphonic elements, as well as small flourishes here and there from all instruments that create such a strong and enjoyable atmosphere. We shouldn’t be talking about Disforia without mentioning the ever amazing vocals, soaring above the fantastic instrumentation. John Yelland fronts the band with obvious influence from power metal legends, but shows promise of paving a legendary path of his own with every note.
“Dream Eater” begins with a great little melody, which Disforia followers should find somewhat familiar. As the song progresses however, it gets heavier and heavier into a beautifully layered chorus with vocal harmonies that send chills down my spine. This is where the album takes on a much more dark and sinister vibe with tracks like “Creator’s Creator”, then “Infection” which features a brief period of voice acting of a brutal murder, all over eerie piano.
“Lunar Sunrise” is easily a favorite of mine from the record, as it begins with such great orchestration and chunky guitar work, then explodes with an evil roar. The vocal layering is phenomenal, features Brittney Hayes, and combined with equally matched musicianship all around, it’s hard to top. That being said, they somehow managed to top it. “The Dying Firmament” immediately follows, nearly making this part of the album just too good to be true. Featuring the power metal god himself, Hansi Kursch, the band really pulled out the best of their abilities when writing this song. Between the fantastic, moving guitar work, the equally impressive bass lines, and the intricate keys and drumming, the song has to be played multiple times just to truly feel each and every part. The guitar solos, though short-lived are perfect for the tone of the song, and the lyrics really have a way of sticking with you.
As if your power metal ears could take anymore perfection, the album pushes the envelope one more time with the closing track “The Ethereal” that is one of those songs that I wish would go on forever, but like all great things, it comes to an end. This is the slowest track on the album, but builds with momentum and beauty into this amazing guitar solo and orchestration backing. The vocal work is beyond powerful and perfectly wraps the album up into its closing line, ‘Haven’t I come this way before?’ which is also featured in the album insert.
All in all, in a music scene that seems to take it’s talent for granted, full of inflated egos and jaded musicians, Disforia is one of those bands that shows true promise and respect for the future of their band, and the survival of the ever important scene they belong to. It’s band’s like this that genuinely make me proud to do what I do. The Age of Ether is a huge release with great production and professional quality, and being from an independent band, it is absolutely something to be proud of. These guys are currently touring around the western side of the United States, so keep an eye out for them!