Album Review: Disgrace – “True Enemy”

If you are somewhat versed in the metallic hardcore scene, you are probably already familiar with Disgrace.  Maybe not with the bands’ music (yet), but at least with the many other bands they share members with, including NAILS, Twitching Tongues, Creatures, and Forced Order.  True Enemy, the debut full-length from the Southern California quartet, sees Disgrace evolving their brand of technical and sludgy metallic hardcore they introduced to the world on their 2012 EP Songs Of Suffering.

The sound of Disgrace is very different than any of the other bands their members are part of.  Where Creatures and Forced Order are fast and more crust-influenced, Disgrace is slower with lots of breakdowns.  Where Twitching Tongues is more melodic in their approach to metal, Disgrace’s music is down tuned and dissonant with guttural vocals.  The band is more like NAILS in that they are as loud and extreme as they can be, but where NAILS plays as fast as humanly possible, Disgrace embraces the other end of the metal spectrum and keeps thing slow.

The first half of True Enemy showcases the bands’ penchant for crafting technical hardcore jams.  Tempo changes are all over the first 6 songs, and at some points, you might not realize it’s all happening in the same song.  Galloping guitar, squealing pinch harmonics, and driving double bass are featured throughout the whole album, but especially in the first half.  With all these metal influences and the amount of changes the band puts into each song, I would expect there to be faster drum beats popping up more often.  There is nothing wrong with the sludgy and groovy feel this album has, but I can’t help feeling like something is being held back.  Every song has a feeling of building up to something that never quite gets there.

Disgrace changes up the formula a bit for the second half.  In some aspects the songs seem more straightforward with less tempo changes going on.  Songs like “The Forgotten Land” and “The Dawn” have more of a metal sound in comparison to the other tracks that feature more of a hardcore influence.  They pull this off really well and I feel like these are the best songs on the album.  The last half also features more defined guitar solos, where the first half is just filled with riffs.  They also throw in an acoustic instrumental with “Segue” that changes things up and gives the listener a short break from the crushing intensity.

They guys in Disgrace are no strangers to heavy music, and this project seems to be a way for them to explore another side of metal and hardcore that they haven’t really been able to do in their other bands.  While the songs are slower overall than some of their other projects, this does not mean they are any less intense.  Prepare for a pummeling when you check this one out.

3.5/5 Stars

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