Desultory - Bitterness
Metal Blade
Melodic Death Metal
9 songs (38:48)
Release year: 1994
Desultory, Metal Blade
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

You can tell who’s cool and who isn’t from carefully listening to people as they read out the names of the bands reviewed this week. If someone gets to Desultory and doesn’t mutter a quiet ‘aw, fuck yeah’ to themselves then, boys and girls, you know it’s ok to pretend they don’t exist as friends, Metalheads, or human beings deserving of continued life on this earth. Desultory hailed from Sweden, y’see, and played a rather awesome form of Death Metal that’s best summed up as old Entombed meets old Dark Tranquillity. It’s rather like being mugged by Melodeath, great big crushing riffs slamming you into the ground whilst the melodies slide around and entangle you – in an ideal world, it’s the direction that Entombed would have taken after Clandestine.

As things were, however, Bitterness was the second of three albums to come from the band, and it’s undoubtedly their best, showing that great songwriting was possible whilst throwing around such a brutal genre. The sheer amount of excellent lead guitar here is indescribable, and it’s the loss of guitarist Stefan that would lead to the band’s decidedly sub-par Swallow The Snake, about which the less said the better. No, if you’re looking for 90s Death Metal with a tad more sophistication than the US output of the time, then Sweden is the place to look. Don’t mistake that ‘Melodic Death Metal’ tag as meaning Desultory play the sort of music that will appeal to In Flames fans, oh no. Bitterness kicks enormous amounts of ass, the Death-Thrashy riffing of Left Behind just one example. Any keyboards present are limited to brief intros a la A Closing Eye – the melodies here are all guitar-based, and all excellent.

Picking highlights is more than easy, as of the nine songs present all are excellent. Life Shatters kicks off sounding very Entombed, but soon heads in a direction far too melodic for LG and co, extended duelling solos proving this band’s skill from the go. Bleeding is a step towards melancholy, Doom-ridden riffs pounding along merrily, before the excellent Enslaved (probably my favourite track here) takes this wonderful grasp and understanding of melody and creates an epic from it, the kind of majestic piece of Death Metal that turns mere bands into gods. Sadly the entire album isn’t as good as its best moments, the rest sometimes feeling a little repetitive as good as it is, but there is more than enough here to make it worthy of your time, and the overall effect is a perfect reminder that the best pieces of Melodeath come from the bands that you’ve never heard of. Recommended.

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(edit) score raised due to awesomeness. What was I thinking?

Killing Songs :
Life Shatters, Left Behind, Bleeding, Enslaved
Goat quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Desultory that we have reviewed:
Desultory - Counting Our Scars reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
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