Disembodied - Psalms of Sheol (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Psalms of Sheol (2010)

Prime Directive

'90s Midwest metal/hardcore beasts--maybe just, acceptably, metalcore?--Disembodied have reunited and are planning a new full-length and all that jazz. But preceding that is this rather solid rarities collection, Psalms of Sheol, which offers some of the band's lesser-known and lesser-found brutally heavy cuts.

While Disembodied fit well (and will continue to) among contemporaries like 108 and Unbroken, there's just something about their procedure that's so much thicker, almost overwhelmingly so, and certainly heavier. Opener "Enochian Prayer" churns through a mid-tempo dirge with guitars pumping like pistons, while "Scratch" goes through a slow pummel like that of a sludgier counterpart to 108's "Deathbed" (a comparison I probably keep coming back to due to the "religious" imagery, "spiritually" self-conscious lyrics and Aaron's double-tool vocal style of frustrated howling and tense, near-spoken word).

Granted, despite pulling from various incarnations of the band's lineup, there's a very linear feel to the album. It operates on that same, slowly crushing plane, though because of that it can actually become pretty exhausting well before the end of its 47-minute running time. It's easier when given slightly thinner but equally mid-paced lumberers like on the three Confession 7" tracks, such as "Feel," where Aaron's vocal contrasts work quite well. The Existence in Suicide EP has a few more versatile moments as well, like the accelerated tempo for "Asura" and Aaron noticeably sounding younger and clearer on the EP as a whole; it was, after all, their debut, released near the beginning of the band's formation in 1995. They lean closer to standard metal territory for "Creeping Death," though that's probably because it's a Metallica cover--I'm not too into Aaron's much sharper bark on this one, though.

So, yeah, Psalms of Sheol can be a draining listen in some aspects, but that's probably just testament to Disembodied's inert ability to exert relentless brute force song in and song out on their early releases and varied compilation tracks. Hopefully they take the best aspects of this general style for the next LP and mix it up in the process, too.

Enochian Prayer