ILLDISPOSED, The Prestige (2008, AFM)

The skull:
Here we have a rounded, almost simian skull plummeting through the black abyss, leaving some kind of osseous vapor trail. It’s actually an eye-catching image, even if it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The photoshop work on the boney miasma is not very convincing, but the lighting and simplicity of the base skull image are quite nice. Ironically, the Council agrees that the digitial foofery dramatically diminishes the prestige of this cover, which, had it been just the skull, would have been through-the-roof!

The music:
Grooving mid-tempo death metal a la Gorefest, although obviously not as good, because no one does this like Gorefest. Illdisposed, from Denmark, add a bit of the requisite Scandinavian melodicism to the riffery, but the formula is basically song-oriented death metal reminiscent of the times when “song oriented death metal” wasn’t an oxymoron. I had never heard Illdisposed before this, and I have to say I’m fairly impressed overall. This is a pretty late release for them, their eighth, and they’ve been around since 1993, which made me wonder if their earlier stuff was better, and in fact, that seems to be the case. If anything, their more recent output is perhaps a bit too polished. The extra brutality of the earliest albums, while never overweaning, is definitely missed now. But while they seem to have maintained a remarkable quality in their songwriting over two decades, the vocals have always been kind of bad, a sort of mushy gurgle of a growl, the work of a guy trying way too hard to sound evil. You’ll get that with death metal, even some good stuff, but it’s still always a bit disappointing. I can live with the singing, though, because the music is good, and I think there’s a good chance I’ll even buy some of this stuff.
— Friar Johnsen