Review Summary: Looks like there is djent from China now, is it good? Yes. But is it unique enough to stand out amongst the wave of instrudjental solo artists? Ehhh...
Look what we have here, it is 2021 and djent is still alive and well. In a way, it seems like the modern choice for guitar virtuosos to show off their practice and technical abilities. Indeed, the genre has gotten pretty big and is oftentimes thought to be an oversaturated market as there are almost as many djent-instrumental solo artists as there are one-man black metal projects. This is why the projects that are worth noting must be especially good as they need to get a step up on the crowd of competitors. Speaking of which, I stumbled upon a good one recently; coming all the way from Guangzhou, China of all places.
Deformity is the debut EP from PIXL, and admittedly, I only assume that it is from a solo artist because there is essentially no information about the project's credentials. But what I can tell you is that this album is a brief, fast-paced, technical slobberknocker from beginning to end, engendering influence from artists such as Animals as Leaders, Periphery, and Demetori. If you are looking for some heavy djent breakdowns, fluid, complicated guitar solos, and even a good bit of synth-driven electronic melodies, this is an album worth checking out.
One could feasibly make a spectrum of djent albums from more aggressive and technical to jazzy and soothing, where Plini would be on one side and AAL would (for the most part) be on the other; Deformity would definitely belong on the more technical/aggressive side, even though there are strong melodies in many of the tracks in the album. There is a good chance that the drums in this album are programmed, for me, it is still difficult to tell but I know that is a major downfall for a lot of people. However, I do think that they are arranged very well and do a lot to complete the rhythm and swiftly chug the songs from section to section. Like one may expect, there are tons of heavy chugs, grooves, and breakdowns that make up the foreground of a lot of the album; these contrast well with the vibrant, technical guitar solos. Additionally, there are noticeably present electronic elements in the compositions, however, I would not go as far as to say that it is akin to the level that The Algorithm merges the genres; PIXL does its own thing with the synth-driven electronic parts.
Just on a general note, the song where all these elements come together the most successfully is "Crakout", you are introduced by a myriad of aggressive arpeggios and heavy downturned riffs, when a minute in, the eclectic synths break up the madness with something more smooth and whimsical. These do well to give the song variety and break up the meat of the album with nice interludes.
The rest of the songs are also good, but they are not pulled off as well in my opinion. Some are heavier, and others contribute unique melodies that stand out. But I think there is a level of disappointment when you put your best material first on an album. In general, I would want more of those good interludes to give more variety to the djent wankery, even though the electronic synths remain present in the background. And as unfortunate as it is to say, for "instrudjental" to really stand out, it needs to be beyond unique and creative, and this album is not necessarily that even though it remains very competent at what it does. I think this would be a good underground rec for those who are longtime fans of djent instrumentals. This is also a solid example of what djent sounds like for those who are new to the genre. If any of this sounds like it's for you, give this at least a couple of spins.