After his Estrangement‘s promising debut with the ep Belong Beneath in 2013 and the subsequent split with Japanese band Begräbnis, there was no news of JS Decline for a long time until his reappearance as a guest, in a far from marginal role, on Aphonic Threnody’s latest album. A few months after the release of The Loneliest Walk, under the aegis of Aesthetic Death comes Disfigurementality, the long-awaited first full length by Estrangement, a work that will certainly not leave one indifferent and that deserves a not too hasty examination. Indeed, the Sydney musician’s oblique approach to funeral doom is at the antipodes of the linearity that normally characterises the subgenre, and this can prove to be a double-edged sword, especially for less patient listeners. In exactly one hour of music, JS without qualms inserts impulses of all kinds, using a wide range of instruments such as flute, violin and double bass, entrusted to as many musicians; the result is an “estranging” work of progressive funeral doom, in which aching guitar passages, poignant violin parts, menacingly ritualistic or softly liturgical vocals, sudden flute incursions and crystalline acoustic outbursts chase one another seamlessly, all set in a context in which the traditionally slow parts are relatively ephemeral, supplanted by every possible variation on the theme. A track such as Detrivore, despite its iridescent progression, stands out as one of the album’s most linear episodes and, on the other hand, the passage through The Light Unshown, Fire Voice and Clusters amply delineates how JS’s talent sometimes pushes him to overdo it and to be too daring, leading him to the borders of dispersiveness. Womb of Worlds, despite its initial schizophrenia, between monastic singings and brutal vocals, introduces a final part that is still disturbed but less cerebral, with the subsequent Asleep in the Vineyard initially emerging as an acoustic gem with jazzy overtones before exploding into a magnificent guitar solo. The long Doppelganger seems to refer to the most Steiner meaning of the word and is a new test of endurance full of contrasting sensations, representing a sort of summary of the characteristics of a complex album, at times contradictory, but full of surprising cues and to be listen to with the utmost care and attention in order to grasp all the good things JS Decline was able to offer.

2022 – Aesthetic Death