A great wise man once said, “You have your whole life to craft your debut album for the masses.” It’s true, though. The time taken to craft an impressive debut is, quite literally, limitless. While some bands gloriously fly against this logic, many of them take extra care to make sure their debut shines brighter than a million incandescent suns. Some bands take a few months after inception to write, while others, like Greece’s Disharmony, took a while. And by “a while,” I mean 26 years. Yes, after a handful of demos back in the early 90s, Disharmony disbanded in 1995 but were resurrected by mainman Damien King III in 2014. And now, their long-long-awaited debut, Goddamn the Sun, is in my grubby little mitts.
After a short atmospheric build-up in the intro track1, “The Gates of Elthon” gallops slowly with an intro riff that reminds me of D.R.I.‘s “Acid Rain” before launching into a pace akin to early Rotting Christ or Varathron. In fact, Goddamn the Sun would have fit right in with both of those bands’ early works. Guitarist Deathstalker fills the second half of the song with solos ranging from “meh” to “okay, that one’s not so bad,” and drummer Grim Reaper litters the song with blasts and impressive fills, recalling Themis Tolis’ (Rotting Christ) skilled battery and cymbal flourishes. King’s raspy vocals are a hit-or-miss affair, but at least Goddamn the Sun starts off on the right foot.
That right foot ends up tripping on itself as the album progresses, however. “Rape the Sun,” the “ballad” of the album, aims for a grandiose atmosphere but becomes hampered by the sloth-like tempo and hokey lyrics like “Endless seas of burning flesh and blood… Blooooood… BLOOOOOOOOOOOD!” Elsewhere, “War in Heaven” sounds like a bad gothic metal song, but with a raspy-throated Greek dude instead of some woman in a corset. Rest assured, though, there’s a backwards-sampled female vocal in the chorus. But the worst of the bunch belongs to “Summon the Legions.” The frantic pace and savage riffing are offset by a painfully basic guitar “melody” and the worst chorus I’ve heard in a black metal song yet. No lie: “SUH-MAH-NAH-SUH-MAH-NAH-SUH-MAH-NAH-SUH-MAH-NAH…” Wash, rinse, cry, repeat.
And it’s a shame. Because some songs, like “Elochim,” feature some incredible performances and energy, especially on the drums. Grim Reaper pulls off some borderline Absu-level drum pyrotechnics here, and on portions of the album. But he can only elevate mediocre material so much. The production also serves no favors. King’s voice sits on top of the music instead of blending in. Their Facebook page lists a bassist (Echetleos of Kawir), but I’ll be damned if I could find him anywhere in the mix. And speaking of mixes, besides King’s voice, the keyboards are cranked to levels of annoyance. While Deathstalker lacks in the melody department, his riffing can be quite tight and impressive (hello, “Elochim” and “Summon the Legions”), and I would enjoy hearing that more than a keyboard playing a single note for several bars.
I get that Disharmony had an incredibly long layoff from music, having resurrected after 19 years of inactivity. But while Goddamn the Sun could be seen as a throwback to early Greek metal, I could just listen to Triarchy of the Lost Lovers or His Majesty at the Swamp for that particular fix. I sense the charm and the atmosphere presented here, but they’re not nearly enough to pull me back.