It has been a little while since I reviewed a proper post hardcore/screamo album, but when a newer band is able to capture that same frantic energy and emotion as some of the more influential in the genre that immediately catches my attention. Copenhagen based Disillusionist has done that with their latest EP Love & Anxiety, which flies by with airier yet aggressive riffing and vocals that sound as raw and gritty as you’d expect. This is their third release, following another EP and a split that came out over the past two years, but there have already been some noticeable shifts in production and the scope of their writing.
Screamo and hardcore of this type have never gone away but depending on the year you’ve sometimes had to dig a bit deeper to find who’s playing it. Disillusionist recalls both the earlier periods of the genre as well as the resurgence that happened in the late 2000s, with airier, bouncier melodies merging with much darker and rawer instrumentation. The brevity of the songwriting and punchiness of the sound falls somewhere between Funeral Diner and pg.99 crossed with earlier La Dispute and Touche Amore, retaining the rawness and aggressive tendencies of the instrumentation while wrapping it up in production values that allow the melodies to soar. This is one of the biggest differences between Love & Anxiety and Disillusionist’s past two releases, as the sound here is much fuller and lets both the harsh and melodic sides break through equally. It’s a move that works to the band’s advantage, as it allows the smaller details to shine better than before and starts to show how they’re pushing slightly outside of the usual genre boundaries. The way the melodies build on “Seclusion” sound like they’re channeling a little bit of post rock and shoegaze, while the electronics and orchestral elements on closer “Funeral Plans” add to the raw emotion of the track. Disillusionist still has room to grow and explore some of these outside elements further, but even on a short release like this they’re demonstrating an ability to push outwards and not merely copy their influences.
As you’d expect from this type of music, the vocals are as raw and in your face as possible. Screamo has always approached this differently than metal or even regular hardcore, using pitches that are dripping in raw emotion and anger and Disillusionist captures that perfectly here. You’re initially greeted with very high-pitched screaming that seems to tear through your speakers, and opener “Sleeper” features Victor Kaas contributing some backing screams. Again, I’m reminded of Funeral Diner but the ear piercing qualities of the tone also channels some The Blood Brothers as well, and while this is definitely an acquired taste for some it added to the appeal for me. Disillusionist also incorporates some lower growls and clean singing during some points, even heading into some spoken word on “Funeral Plans”. I’ve always been torn on spoken word in screamo and metalcore and that’s once again the case here as it comes across as a little awkward, but that doesn’t detract too much overall.
This EP does fly by just a little too quickly, but a lot of these riffs have been stuck in my head for the last day or so and that’s a good sign for how well Disillusionist is able to capture this style. They’ve left themselves with some room to grow and potentially explore some of the other instrumental elements that appear towards the end of the EP, but there’s already plenty of substance that make this well worth checking out for fans of everything post hardcore, hardcore, or screamo. I’m excited to see where the band goes on an eventual full-length, as Disillusionist seems like one of the few that can channel such a sense of nostalgia while still pushing elements of these genres forward. Love & Anxiety is available from Over the Under Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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