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Subterranean Disposition : Subterranean Disposition

Subterranean Disposition's debut is a solid effort that demonstrates both considerable craft and attention to detail.

The name of Terry Vainoras may be at least passing familiar to any scholar of the Australian underground metal scene: it's a name that has been associated with what seems like a large proportion of all the Melbourne-based Death, Doom or Black Metal bands of the past twenty years, playing a variety of instruments on releases ranging from the Cryptal Darkness promo EP in 1997 to The Eternal's 2009 'Kartika'. As a side-project to The Eternal, Terry and Mark Kelson formed Insomnius Dei, recording one album, 'Illusions Of Silence', in 2007. Subterranean Disposition is Terry's solo project, ostensibly following on from, and expanding on, that collaborative work.

Recorded during 2010, this self-titled debut is about to finally see release through Hypnotic Dirge Records, a Canadian underground independent label currently expanding to include a Doom roster. Quite aside from the album review, I feel the need to compliment HDR, who couldn't have been more helpful and friendly in supplying information and material, including a copy of this slickly-packaged and well-produced CD. (That's not as common as one might assume: many labels and bands supply nothing but download options, which are acceptable, if somewhat sterile and of variable quality, compared to seeing and hearing the finished article).

So, returning to the album: it is, aside from a dash of female vocals, a brief saxophone piece and some unspecified 'additional programming' (presumably for the drums), entirely a solo work that probably best falls under the melodic Death/Doom banner, with some added experimentation. As befits a contributor of guitars, bass, keyboards and vocals to different bands over the years, the musicianship on display in those departments is to a consistently high standard, although the use of keyboard is minimal. The vocals are worth a comment in themselves, with a broad range from decent growls through snarled whispers to pleasantly deep clean singing. The drums are, it appears, entirely programmed - but, despite that, not bad: a lot of effort has been made to give them some body and variety.

That last statement is equally true of the whole project: a lot of thought and effort has gone into developing the various strands of each of the long (9 minutes and up) tracks making up the album. The promotional text cites Cult Of Luna as a comparison, which is probably fair enough, but it also brings to mind the sort of thematic evolutions found in the likes of The Morningside's progressive/concept approach. There's a similar willingness to mix the slow and stately with the frantic and harsh, to use abrupt directional changes as well as more subtle building of intensity, to sidestep into a passage of ambient sound or a few spoken words. Overall, it's in a similar sort of vein to 'Moving Crosscurrent Of Time', but with a generally darker, bassier and more grimly aggressive sound.

Most of the time, I have to say, the approach works well: the changing tempos and melody lines remain largely coherent within each song structure, and there are some standout moments, particularly in the sparely-used female vocals and sax and keyboard contributions. For me, the three tracks using these flourishes ('Prolong This Agony', 'Wailing My Keen', and centerpiece 'The Most Subtle Of Storms') are the highlights of the album. The last of those three is let down a little towards the end by an ambient passage of ocean sounds that stretches on rather longer than necessary: a shame, because it detracts from the otherwise slick way it merges into the closing guitar piece. My only real criticism would be of 'Seven Sisters Of Sleep', which could be a great track but for a section of grating, distorted vocals sandwiched between a hypnotically mellow bassline and a soaring guitar riff: the effect is presumably one of deliberate dissonance, sadly, it doesn't fit in at all.

Still, the net result is a solid effort that demonstrates both considerable craft and attention to detail, along with some interesting exploration of the musical ideas. Not necessarily full of outright surprises, but with some twists and turns on a fairly dark and brooding journey: worth a listen, at the very least, I'd say.

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Reviewer's rating: 7.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Between Apes And Angels
2. Prolong This Agony
3. Seven Sisters Of Sleep
4. The Most Subtle Of Storms
5. Wailing My Keen

Duration : Approx. 55 minutes

Visit the Subterranean Disposition bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-09-28 by Mike Liassides
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