Subterranean Disposition is an incredibly interesting entity; although it is a one man band, the vast array of influences lend one to think that there are many more minds at play here. Terry Vainoras, the man behind the music, has had over fifteen years of experience playing with bands that range in genres from grindcore to metallic hardcore, to death metal and the doom genre. Now, that kind of experience would lead many (and rightfully so) to think that this would be a mixed bag of genres and sounds, but Subterranean Disposition shows strength in a very focused direction. It maintains a central sound while still drawing from many different influences beautifully, creating an album that is hard to classify as one particular genre. The unifying sound is nothing short of melancholy; there are no two ways about it. Subterranean Disposition is dense and overwrought from the beginning, and that depressive sound does not let up throughout the entirety of the album. While that may be jarring and turn some listeners off to the album, it is important to note that even though the sound itself is devoid of positivity, the influences that Vainoras employs here are nothing short of groundbreaking when the whole album is taken into account.
While the sound works on the album as a whole, each song is a journey in itself as well. With five songs averaging out to be about ten minutes each, it certainly is quite a bit of time to fill up for each track. The introduction to first track “Between Apes and Angels” starts with a very post-metal sounding riff accompanied by a sound bite of apes going, well, ape in the background. The clean vocals that make an appearance on this song sound as if My Dying Bride had taken the microphone. In fact, most of the album has an early nineties doom-inspired sound, and it is the minor tweaks to that traditional sound that really puts the album in its own category. “Prolong this Agony” finds Vainoras shelving the death-inspired vocals for a minute and a half in order to bring female vocals to the forefront, and as surprising to the listener as it might be, it works wonders for the song itself. The droning repetition that pervades most of the song is given an appropriate breather, without sacrificing the overall tone of the music. Subterranean Disposition ends up utilizing atmospheric sound in that way very well throughout the entirety of the album at just the right time, thus avoiding what could have been a bleak and ultimately boring affair. Instead, the listener is treated to beautifully-done acoustic passages that pass through as land markers for the heavier, doom-inspired sections. The sludgy riffs that make their appearances throughout the album are sometimes matched in a slow procession of instruments and other times accompanied by speedy double bass, creating an off-kilter effect on the listener which is very disconcerting. Standout track “The Most Subtle of Storms” even includes a saxophone solo, and it surprisingly does not sound out of place due to the ambient texture that is interspersed through Subterranean Disposition. Vainoras’ masterful utilization of crushing heaviness and ambient soundscape allows for him to get away with more than normal, such as the male/female vocal trade-off in song “Wailing my Keen”. It could have very easily sounded as if it did not belong on the album, but because of the morose atmospheric tendencies in the album, it gives the song a stronger emotional tie. The breathy spoken word at the end of this song is incredibly effective, more so because of the dramatic tendencies of the entire album.
Unfortunately, as is the case for forward thinking releases such as this, the positives can also turn into the negatives as well. There is no disputing that it is a daunting, involved listen. The song lengths themselves may turn some off, as well some of the more jarring sections within songs (the higher register and raw screaming halfway through “Seven Sisters of Sleep”). It is a heavy album with no light at the end of the tunnel, and the sadness displayed sonically can be determined for each individual listener. There is certainly strong musicianship and songwriting throughout Subterranean Disposition, and the end result are five very inspired songs that are worthy being in any metal fan’s library. The only question is: are you ready for the harrowing journey that is Subterranean Disposition?
1.) Between Apes and Angels
2.) Prolong This Agony
3.) Seven Sisters of Sleep
4.) The Most Subtle of Storms
5.) Wailing My Keen