Saturday, November 3, 2012

Subterranean Disposition - Subterranean Disposition

Subterranean Disposition
Subterranean Disposition
Hypnotic Dirge Records

On the surface, Subterranean Disposition would appear to be a new addition to the Australian doom/death metal scene. But if you were to dig a little deeper, it becomes quite obvious that the Melbourne based outfit are anything but newcomers to the scene, and that those involved are anything but novices. Essentially a one man act, Subterranean Disposition is the new musical vehicle for multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Terry Vainoras, who in the past has been involved in acts as diverse as Hellspawn, Damaged, The Eternal and Order Of Chaos over his decade and a half long career.
In 2005, Vainoras partnered up with The Eternal vocalist/guitarist/founder Mark Kelson to form the ambient death/doom metal outfit InSomnius Dei, who duly released their debut effort ‘Illusions Of Silence’ in 2007. The album earned the pair a lot of critical acclaim upon its release, and Vainoras set about putting together some musical ideas for a follow-up. But given how tied up Kelson was with The Eternal, InSomnius Dei was inevitably put onto the backburner, and plans to collaborate on any new music in the future looked unlikely. Undeterred, Vainoras decided to forge ahead alone, renamed his solo venture as Subterranean Disposition and recorded a full-length effort, handling all the vocals and instruments himself.
Recording of Subterranean Disposition’s debut effort was completed as far back as 2010, but after spending the better part of the last year and a half in the vaults, independent Canadian label Hypnotic Dirge Records have finally released Vainoras’ latest musical venture to the masses.
Anyone who’s familiar with Vainoras’ work with InSomnius Dei will already have a fair idea what to expect with Subterranean Disposition. If on the other hand you’re not, then Subterranean Disposition is primarily a death/doom metal, but with a distinctly experimental and melodic edge.
Opening with the sounds of shrieking apes, ‘Between Apes And Angels’ is a slow starting track that relies heavily on atmospherics and droning tempos, which is exactly the sort of thing you would expect from the doom/death metal genre. Vainoras’ deep death growls are quite impressive in the initial part of the song, but it’s his clean Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) sounding vocals that really showcase how far he has come as a vocalist. Apart from the differing vocal styles, the track has some well executed atmospherics amongst the potent doom-like riffing, and the odd tempo change in a couple of places helps keep the near ten minute track from slipping into familiar and predictable terrain.
The follow-up track ‘Prolong This Agony’ is a definite favourite on the album with its aggressive approach at the start, and Vainoras’ ability to hold the listener’s attention with the inclusion of ambient passages woven continually throughout the track’s ten minute running length. Heaven The Axe’s Phoebe Pinnock’s guest vocals on the quieter passages within the song cleverly counterbalance the heavier moments, while the death metal tail end of the song adds a progressive edge to proceedings, and showcases Vainoras’ exceptional song writing beyond death/doom metal’s traditional framework.
‘Seven Sisters Of Sleep’ is an interesting foray into the experimental, with elements of industrialised manipulation on the vocals and guitars helping to create a completely different sound from what’s essentially a fairly crushing slab of gothic/doom/melodic death metal. While the mix of sounds and direction sound a little too eclectic to work, Vainoras manages to keep the transitions from one passage to the next sound natural, which more than keeps the listener interested from start to finish.
‘The Most Subtle Of Storms’ takes the experimentation of the former track to a whole new level, with Silvereye saxophonist D’arcy Molan adding a bit of smooth jazz to the song, while Vainoras’ channels a bit of Joe Duplantier (Gojira) and Thomas Gabriel Fischer (Ex-Apollyon Sun/Celtic Frost/Triptykon) on the vocal front. The differing vocal deliveries and addition of saxophone to the sparse doom/progressive tinged metal template is a strange hybrid, but one that works more often than not.
Finishing up the hour long album is ‘Wailing My Keen’, which can be best described as doom metal mixed with hefty shades of post rock. Guitar riffs are used sparingly, but pack enough punch to break up the passages of Tool-like progressive atmospherics. The song also marks the return of Pinnock on guest vocals, whose efforts add a great contrast against Vainoras’ death like growls.
On the whole, I’m really impressed with Subterranean Disposition’s debut effort. Vainoras’ collaboration with Kelson in InSomnius Dei had me praising their efforts, but with Subterranean Disposition, Vainoras has taken the whole ambient death/doom metal to an entirely new level.
Subterranean Disposition isn’t the sort of album that will amaze on first listen. But if you’re willing to give it the time, and you prefer your death/doom to lean more towards the experimental, then this is one album you should really track down.

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© Justin Donnelly