Friday, April 23, 2010

Defeated Sanity - Chapters of Repugnance (Willowtip Records; 2010)

So, honestly, I'm not the biggest DS fan. In fact, if you actually care enough about the Internet or the band enough to check the shoutbox of Psalms of the Moribund, you can find a post by me detailing what I find to be problematic with it. It goes as follows, for the lazy:

"songwriting is catastrophically overrated and, frankly, bad. production is messy and dingy with no real clarity EVER, and this kind of production doesn't really suit the abundance of things they're trying to accomplish. vocals are too quiet and indistinct. slams are de-emphasized in favor of fast, blurred riffs with zero direction. bass is sometimes distracting and over-emphasized for no discernible reason. drumming is unfocused and, though precise to a fault, sometimes defaults to fast, blurred snare rolls (in Devourment fashion) with no reason to do so. so, in essence, this falls into a lot of the same pitfalls a bunch of modern tech death falls into, but it hurts my feelings that this is so well rated."

So, yeah. I don't like it. I find it a chore to listen to. I posted that to both stir the pot and to give hope to any fellow haters (as much as I don't find this term to be endearing) of that album...anyway, enough about that, on to this beast of a fucking album.

After Psalms, pretty much everyone was fired from the band or left. Lille Gruber, semi-allstar drummer (bands such as Mucopus and even on some Cenotaph albums I recall), remained, quickly gathering new members such as insane fucking vocalist A.J. Magana (if you remember, he was on Disgorge's Consume the Forsaken, before being replaced by the vastly inferior Levi Fuselier, and on top of that, he followed Matti [fucking] Way after the indomitable She Lay Gutted, so, basically, he kind of got forgotten about by a lot of people from what I understand).

Blasting off without regard to subtlety, "Introitus" leads us into the madness with some Gorguts-esque "weird noodling stuff" until it proceeds to smash your brains and balls (if you have either) with some completely ridiculous slamming bass drops. After all this is over, first "true" song "Consumed By Repugnance" flies into the frame, alternating between frantic and calculated as early Defeated Sanity showed that they could do very well. Gone is the muddy, afterthought production of Psalms, and now we have a strong, sharp, colorful mix which does well to highlight vocals (all too under-represented on the previous outing, though Jens was an average vocalist at his absolute best regardless), interesting drum fills and pummeling slams with equal aplomb...this mixing job is pretty fantastic, and, though the band still has a penchant for going off their collective rockers with improvised syncopated jazz sections bearing only tangential relation to other songwriting aspects, at least the jazz is interesting and amusing this time rather than just stupid.

There are really quite a lot of insane slams on this; I love the renewed sense of focus on this album. Around 25 seconds into the third track, "Carnal Deliverance", there is a sequence of intense slams complemented by splashes of interesting drumming and even some bass highlights. Everything is heavy, brutal and barbaric, but it doesn't sacrifice intelligence for, well...anything. It's like there is 400% brutal death metal here, and there are no concessions given to any one style, songwriting aspect or aesthetic. It's pure fucking heavy, balls-out death metal with interesting songs, well-placed breaks to headbang slowly, and subsequent returns to well-flowing fastness. In other words, it just makes fucking sense; yet, ironically, it is fresh and unique and intelligent enough to be "ahead of the curve" in slam.

Bass takes the forefront instead of guitar in the first minute and a half of "Engulfed In Excruciation", with one riff pushing bass so far to the front that it is playing the rhythmic riff and the guitar is reduced to crumbling noise...inventive and interesting, that's the name of the game on Chapters of absolutely crushing slam follows, with disturbing vocals, all reverbed and layered into a mire of hateful brutality. There is nothing indistinct, nothing muddy, nothing odd or out-of-place...this is DS coming into their own, far better than Psalms showed them to be, fans of that album be damned! (Just kidding, don't kill me.)

The last minute of "Coerced Into Idolatry" has a funeral slam™, which, for those of you who don't follow the blog, is a slam that either begins at the normal, average pace of the song and descends sharply into hanging chords punctuated by equally slow drums; essentially the equivalent of a sonic bludgeoning...or one that comes out of absolutely nowhere in the most ludicrous, whiplash-inducing way possible. This one is of the latter variety, and melds nicely into the equally funereal and cosmic outro sample. A+ for that one. "Blissfully Exsanguinated" features the worst vocal performance so far, but the blasting and fills more than make up for that lacking aspect, along with more bass highlights! The outro sample, however, is a bit overbearing; a sort of suspenseful, fading and dark string-enhanced bit that is kind of unnecessary. The shortest song is up next, "Calculated Barbarity", which features a blurry main riff and some furious drum and vocal delivery, but which doesn't really stand out for any particular reason, other than the total Suffocation + Devourment worship it generally exudes.

"Lurid Assimilation" is, well, fucking huge. I'm pretty sure experiencing this live would kill multiple people, and it irritates me that I saw them when they had Jens on vocals and they weren't this tight and excellent (on stage anyway). I recall being utterly mystified at the sample of "Salacious Affinity", and I am really glad that my high hopes for this album came true. This track features a very, very long breakdown that leads us right to the end of the song in a fashion most similar to Devourment's "Field Of The Impaled"...I love it. It's awesome. It's brutal. It's Defeated fucking Sanity, and they are back with a vengeance. Highly recommended.


Sean said...

um.. Wolfgang was the one who WROTE Lurid Assimilation, fyi..

Andy Phelps said...

Alright, so the problem must have lied elsewhere. Edit the post I shall. I hate getting band personnel credits wrong or overlooking stuff like that, so I appreciate the error-catching.


t said...

"drumming is unfocused and, though precise to a fault, sometimes defaults to fast, blurred snare rolls (in Devourment fashion) with no reason to do so"

I wouldn't call them snare rolls because he's gravity blasting with one stick. And the reason he does it is because it's fucking insane. I don't think the first 25 seconds of "Engorged with Humiliation" could get much better.

Anyway nice review of Chapters. I just stumbled across the blog, looks good...

Andy Phelps said...

Excuse the lack of technical knowledge; I am but a writer, not a musician. And that isn't a good enough reason in my book ;)

But thanks!

t said...

Haha ;)
I don't know much about drumming either but I just heard him blasting the hat during the roll and thought WHAT THE FUCK IT'S ONE HANDED. Basically I love blasts so I pay special attention to them.

Andy Phelps said...

Oh, yeah, now that you mention it I hear that too. I don't make those kind of audio-visual connections though haha.