Review Summary: Defeated Sanity further cement their position as one of the top brutal death bands today.
Defeated Sanity have always been one of the more highly regarded brutal death bands, with good reason. In a subgenre populated by clones fixated on ripping each other off, these German death metallers have consistently pushed out technical, heavy but also surprisingly varied and carefully composed releases. Granted, they’ve never been known to expand beyond the relatively narrow brutal death spectrum. However, the simple fact of the matter is they’ve earned a name for themselves by simply producing material of a greater quality than the majority of their peers, and Passages Into Deformity
, their latest, is no exception.
Those expecting the band to have expanded their horizons and produced something out of the ordinary are going to be disappointed, Defeated Sanity have stuck firmly to their guns with this album. Their notoriously unhinged and ever shifting guitar work is still as foreboding as ever, often rapidly alternating between tremolo strumming and bass-laden grooves. There is even a minor presence of melody in a few tracks such as “The Purging” and “Perspectives”, something a lot of brutal death bands apparently have no concept of. Breakdowns are used in a necessarily recurrent manner; not obnoxious or overly dumbed down.
The drumming of Lille Gruber along with the rest of the instrumental performances is relentless and chaotic. Rarely is he content to simply keep the beat with the rest of the band, often delving into spontaneous, seemingly improvisational rhythms and patterns. Yet his performance doesn’t feel out of place, as balance and harmony emerges from a combination of seemingly dissonant individual components. The production is cleaner than the last few albums these guys have released, albeit very brickwalled. However, with the extra clarity, notes are easier to decipher and the music still retains that delightful thumpiness we’ve long since associated with the genre. Like a lot of brutal death bands, Defeated Sanity have chosen to use the good old popcorn snare drum, this along with the tinny cymbals helps add a distinct “rawness” to the music.
One of Defeated Sanity’s most distinctive traits has been the vocals. Although they’ve sifted through quite a few frontmen, it’s obvious that the band favours a vocalist on the more “animalistic” side of the spectrum. Newest frontman Konstantin Luring lacks the projection and range that a lot of modern death metal vocalists possess, but projection and range is clearly not what they’re after. Further reiterating the confidence these men have in their formula, they assimilate their newest vocalist as another subtle element of their sound, as opposed to a driving force. Luring’s performance isn’t overbearing, and suits the music to a tee. His lower-than-low growls and bizarre pig squeals add a curiously eerie and disturbing atmospheric quality.
There are subtle nuances that may not be apparent at first, but they gradually trickle to the forefront after multiple listens. The album may sound a bit samey and a lot of tracks may blend together at first. This apparent homogeneity upon first listen actually comes from considerable variation of all things, which in the case of this album can be very difficult to wrap your head around. Every track contains a precisely calculated array of riffs, tempo shifts, occasional solos and breaks, making it a remarkably challenging but rewarding listen. As the album surges along, it becomes apparent that the variation isn’t being created between easily distinguishable, formulaic songs, but an amalgamation of ever-changing sequences within each track. As such the album is impossible to absorb and appreciate in only two or three sittings. But unlike a lot of typically disjointed brutal death releases, the album can be dissected and listened to over and over again.
Despite lacking the relentlessness of Psalms
or the outright heaviness of Chapters
, Passages Into Deformity
more than holds its own within Defeated Sanity's gleaming catalog. A challenging but rewarding listen, it goes about pulverising the listener in a more calculated way, without sacrificing the violence the genre is notable for. Hiding subtle nuances under ominous layers of aural cruelty, the German mob has once again produced a brutal death gem, cementing their position as one of the finest acts in the genre today.