Disbelief – The Ground Collapses (Listenable)

Friday, 6th March 2020
Rating: 7/10

This scribe had the benefit of being in company with a musician who toured with Disbelief during the mid-2000s. This gentleman, a then-member of New York’s Pro-Pain, marveled at Disbelief’s ability to make mid-tempo, otherwise basic death metal sound “heavy as fuck” in the live setting, in particular, former drummer’s Kai Bergerin manner of maintaining constant double bass drumming underneath steady, groove-like beats. Since then, Disbelief enjoyed a quick jaunt on Nuclear Blast with 2005’s 66Sick, then released a string of unheralded albums to close out the decade that led to a seven-year hiatus before the release of 2017’s The Symbol of Death. The unflappable Germans have returned with The Ground Collapses, another true-to-form album of grizzled mid-paced death metal.

There’s almost a Bolt Thrower-like element to Disbelief’s sound, although Disbelief, to their credit, isn’t afraid to cross into melodic territory every so often. The totally harried bellow of Karsten “Jagger” Jäger (also of Morgoth) is enough to blow enough hypothetical speakers if you catch our drift — he’s up there with the likes of Martin van Drunen (Asphyx, ex-Pestilence) and John Tardy (Obituary) as having one of the most intimidating, if not profound roars in death metal.

But for all of Jäger’s vocal exploits, Disbelief can sometimes get sucked into a songwriting malaise, which is largely the case for The Ground Collapse. While the opening title track and “The Awakening” sport whiplash-inducing shards of death/thrash and the mosh-ready opening of “Killing to the Last” is, in effect, pretty killer, the album’s steady, unrelenting scope of rollicking death metal can, unfortunately, congeal a bit too much. Once The Ground Collapse’s 11 songs are said and done, all that is left is the remnants of Jäger’s ungodly roar, which is enough to scare the pants off of you.

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