Recode the Subliminal – Disconnected (Self-Released)

Wednesday, 14th March 2018
Rating: 9/10

Recode the Subliminal quietly made their debut onto the metal scene with The Cost of Every Man back in 2016. Basking in melodic death metal influences (notably Soilwork and Scar Symmetry), it was an enjoyable listen that executed the traditional sounds of the genre with plenty of finesse and flair. But for their second release, Disconnected, they have decided to test the waters in moving further outside the boundaries, and succeeded in crafting a more unique formula.

Disconnected is a concept album inspired by the video game series Deus Ex, in which humans have biotech augmentations to replace or enhance existing body parts with machinery. The story itself is a strong one, full of sci-fi imagery but grounded by focusing on a more ‘human’ tale of a man and his augmented wife and their journey within this world (we’ll leave the rest of the storytelling to the album itself). The bottom line, is that in what could have been a simple (and potentially cold) story became a vibrant and rather poignant one instead. With this particular aspect in mind, the music itself is augmented at times – the use of synths and electronic elements suits the storyline as well as the melodeath framework.

There are some heavier tracks that show how the band has progressed since their debut in terms of songwriting, such as the opening one-two punch of “Unnatural Selection” and “Adaugmen I: The New Age,” where thundering riffs and drumming weave some intricate segments into progressive structures and catchy melodies. The balance is excellent and gets the album moving off the bat. But intriguingly, the album takes a bit of a left turn from the chaos by the time “In a Different Light” rolls around. An excellent duet with Katie Thompson (Chiasma) moves things into more emotive waters and works to further the transition with the tracks that follow. “Abandoned” sees vocalist Ryan Strain really taking center stage with his melodic vocals with a melancholic cut that still uses some crunchy riffs to avoid ballad status. Likewise for “Desiderium,” where more electronic elements are used alongside Strain’s rich vocal work to provide a real melodic showstopper. But the best may be saved for last with “Where I Can’t Follow,” which brings an epic conclusion that’s both heavy and touching.

The heavier moments trade off with more melodic and introspective ones in such a way that benefits the story as well as an enjoyable dynamic for listeners. For those not as interested in the story, there’s still some throttling heaviness and driving riffs, plenty of delightful soloing and leads, and Ryan Strain’s fantastic vocal dynamics and performance to revel in and dissect. Recode the Subliminal have taken a massive leap forward with their sound, and Disconnected is a thrilling ride for anyone who enjoys melodic metal.

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