Disembodied - Diablerie (1997)
As a genre, metalcore is as much of an enigma as any style of music. Like it’s hardcore cousin, it tends move in cycles as different sub-genres move to its forefront every ten-to-fifteen or so years. Five years ago, everyone wanted to sound like Periphery, and five years before that, everyone wanted to be Botch. Now everyone wants to sound like a band right off of Trustkill/Ferret/Indecision/any-other-metalcore-label-from-the-late-90’s-or-early-00’s; Poison the Well, 7 Angels 7 Plagues, Eighteen Visions, etc. are all bands from whom this new wave of metalcore seem to really enjoy taking inspiration. Of them all, however, none seem to be currently as in vogue as Minnesota’s Disembodied.
Yes, that Disembodied: the band that everyone and their mother swore they listened to two years ago when their favorite band was probably Northlane or Thy Art is Murder (or some other band of that nature) as soon as they and their sister band, Martyr A.D., were slated to reunite for this year’s edition of This is Hardcore fest. Suddenly, merchswap groups across Facebook were littered with inquiries to old merch (including that windbreaker) as people rushed to learn the lyrics to “Heroine Fingers.” All jokes aside, Disembodied’s discography had a profound effect on many of metalcore’s pioneers, and while we can’t look at all of it at this very moment, for this piece we’ll focus on their 1997 LP, Diablerie.
I’ll just cut straight to it: front-to-back, Diablerie is a crash course in brutality and terror, but not for the reasons one might typically think. All of the turn-of-the-century metalcore tropes are present, of course: a nice sense of groove, metallic riffs, minor-second panic chords, etc; but what really makes the album so eerie are sections where the band slows things down, using feedback and bits of spoken word to set a disturbing tone reminiscent of Korn’s self-titled. These bits don’t evoke feelings of heartache like Poison the Well or of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm like Eighteen Visions; rather, they emanate a sense of dread and despair. Songs like “Devil’s Grin” and “Nicotine” are perfect examples, with lines such as “How could you be so cold / An easily placed conjecture for a common placed man” and “Through this veil of smoke / I come to ends with myself / This new addiction where has it spawned / From where I watch myself die” give off a nihilism that you’d more expect to find on an Integrity or 100 Demons record. The difference between the aforementioned bands and Disembodied, however, is that these lines are delivered quietly and painfully, adding to the mood.
That’s not to say that the record isn’t punishingly heavy. The intro to “Anvil Chandelier” is laden with panic chords, and the tremolo riff at the end of “Deity” will unquestionably send those fortunate enough to catch them at This is Hardcore this year into a feeding frenzy, and there are more than enough two-step parts to go around. All of this creates a record that is heavy in its own unique way, paving the way for many of the metalcore bands that we’ve come to know and love.
I would liken the experience of listening to Diablerie to an episode of sleep-paralysis: it’s something that feels familiar, but freezes you shut with an unknown sense of dread and panic like nothing else. You hear whispers of terrors and pure evil that send you into a frenzy in an attempt to escape the encroaching anxiety. The difference between a bout of sleep paralysis and this record, however, is that Diablerie makes this innervation extremely enjoyable. They didn’t know it at the time, but Disembodied wrote a seminal metalcore record that is essential listening for any lover of heavy music.
- Cesar G.
Wherein Brian hilariously overanalyzes a subgenre of metal!