without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
While I've always been rather passionate about my feelings on the album, I laid off on attempting to review Chapters of Repugnance (and by extension, Defeated Sanity as a whole) for a very, very long time. I felt that based on the unanimous praise the band was receiving, I must have simply been missing something crucial to the overall atmosphere of the band, an essential piece of knowledge which would render me able to siphon out of Defeated Sanity's music some form of enjoyment. In the early sections of my journey through death metal I looked forward to finally "getting" Defeated Sanity, for I saw it as a rite of passage: every few months I'd anxiously take a short trip to YouTube, pull up a few tracks, and listen intently. I'd wait for it as the music played through its cycles, I'd wait for the spark of insight to set my feelings ablaze and replace my indifference with zealous passion for Defeated Sanity - after all, why not find a new band to love if the opportunity presented itself? 'Tis always more fun to love something than to despise it, after all. And so, with eagerness instilled in me, I would sit patiently, arming my mind with tolerance and several possible perspectives from which I could potentially appreciate the band, and I would wait. And I'd keep waiting... and then the tracks would end; and I'd still be left sitting there, waiting for the moment of realisation, for the moment when this brutal death metal God of sorts would swoop down from Heaven and bless me with faith and peace of mind. My indifference confused me and made me a bit more upset each time I was left without answers, and so my visits to the band's altar would become more frequent - I think there was a point in time where I probably listened to Chapters of Repugnance more than bands I was already legitimately interested in. And then one day, in the midst of my frustration and desire to believe, this God answered my prayers most graciously - by proving he did not exist. And I came to accept Defeated Sanity as what they were - a band who were frustrating not in how the complexity of their music effectively soared over my lesser mental capacity, but rather in how ineffectual they were at all the things they attempted to accomplish.
Hey, if you're planning on sending me barely coherent emails while you're blinded by rage and fighting back tears, read this paragraph first: I acknowledge that Defeated Sanity are quite proficient songwriters and talented musicians. Chapters of Repugnance is anything but sloppy and unprofessional, and I suppose that may be where the band's appeal lies in other people's minds. While technicality isn't exactly a musical quality I find admirable, I will acknowledge that it is present here and that this album is a fair bit more complex and intellectual than most brutal death metal bands ever will be. Defeated Sanity are clearly a band who are dead-set about what they want to play, and this album is undoubtedly exactly what they wanted to create and nothing else. All things considered, it's all pretty intelligently composed, with the songs all having an extremely natural sense of flow and all going exactly where they need to in order to feel like actual songs instead of chains of riffs stapled together. However, in the same way that you can make tracks that are just unrelated chains of riffs which just so happen to each be extremely beautiful, you can create a near-flawless set of framework for a song but fill that framework in with unbelievably lifeless textures, rhythms, and flair. Defeated Sanity definitely fit squarely in the latter category.
The music on display here is actually pretty decent, and I say that as someone who can hardly stomach any sort of technicality in brutal death metal. The first thing this reminds me of is Wormed, but without the otherworldly guitar tone and perhaps a bit more in-your-face sort of approach to songwriting. While they're similar to Wormed in that they have a proclivity to show off weird time signatures and melodies, Defeated Sanity put a lot more emphasis on blast beats and just trying to be as heavy as possible ("trying" being the key word; I'll elaborate upon that in a minute). While I'm not particularly crazy over the general type of complex, downtuned riffs that Defeated Sanity play, they're certainly better than a grand majority of the ones I hear from technical brutal death metal bands in that they at least attempt to retain some semblance of creativity instead of simply playing hackneyed melodies and forced chugs over the lower strings. Now, something I can most certainly appreciate is that Chapters of Repugnance has a surprisingly refreshing OSDM tinge to it. A fair number of the riffs feel like a more modern reinterpretation of something you'd hear on Butchered at Birth, Severed Survival or Legion. These riffs retain the slightly thrashy, eerie melodies from those albums and throw in a bit of modern blasting and chugging to give them a bit more contemporary relevance, and the end result is certainly quite interesting. I'd be curious to hear more technical brutal death metal bands play stuff like this - at the very least, it'd be way more interesting than the creative stagnancy the genre is seeing right now. The vocals are actually a pretty interesting choice for brutal death metal: instead of a guttural roar, gurgle or squeal, the vocals are primarily a gruff, harsh growl that could've easily been heard in death metal by 1996 or so (oinky gutturals provide occasional backup but they're certainly not the main voice used here). They're not the choice I would've made - honestly, as nice as they are, I still think a gurgle would have sounded better - but they're certainly not bad and pretty original to boot.
Lots of metalheads (particularly the ones who see Defeated Sanity as a sort of diamond in the rough for brutal death metal and disregard similarly technical and heavy BDM bands as "talentless noise" or what have ye) seem to value Chapters of Repugnance as one of the heaviest albums to ever exist, no doubt mostly referring to the massive guitar tone utilised on the album. I disagree, and ironically, I find this guitar tone to be the biggest reasons that the album is a flop, as it is literally one of the worst choices a band could ever make in regards to that element of the music. In its present state, even a paper-thin, undistorted guitar being played on a practice amp would have been more efficient. The guitar tone is ridiculously loud and bassy, but it's also worth noting that this approach to brutality also sacrifices clarity and treble, which are two very essential elements to achieving a "brutal" sound. A lot of the riffs are rendered via the guitar tone into a mess of indistinguishable slurry, which is rather unfortunate if you want to appreciate the melodies going on underneath (and based on what is audible, it's almost guaranteed that these riffs are pretty damn good, so it's a shame that they can't be heard very well). The guitar tone also rids the music of any chunkiness, which pretty much ruins the slower, slammier parts of Defeated Sanity's compositions, not only muddying the melodies contained therein (though it's not like they appear to be anything special here) but also ridding them of catchiness, which is really the only reason a band should even use slams. This is why the super-brutal approach works for Torsofuck, Enmity and Neoandertals but not Defeated Sanity: all those bands have treble and definition. They're not particularly loud and in-your-face (okay, maybe Torsofuck are), but their guitars have texture. You can hear Enmity's guitar change its sound compared to when it chugs and when it riffs, you can hear Neoandertals palm-mute, you can hear Torsofuck's guitar crunch with every note it plays. Contrast these attributes with Defeated Sanity, who use this frankly annoying sort of loud, faceless warbling which wears on the listener extremely quickly. If the three other bands are like a brass-knuckled fist to the face, Defeated Sanity are like a fat woman sitting on top of you - arguably heavier and more immediately thick, but a lot less precise, a lot less brutal, and ultimately a much less efficient method of trying to beat someone into submission.
Defeated Sanity also don't really know how to groove, though this could be partially attributed to the godawful guitar tone. Still, I feel like Chapters of Repugnance's slams could've been saved even with the lack of definition present, if they had focused on something a bit more potent than being technical or heavy. Yeah, I get it, you can play a really slow chug over some double bass, and you can make a slam in the time signature of 7/4 and put a bit of syncopation in the drumming on top of it, but where are the triplet patterns? Where are the pinch harmonics? This doesn't really feel wiggerish at all, and ironically feels so focused on being technical in other, more secondary attributes that it forgets to flesh out the actual composition of the slams. Even Defeated Sanity's closest cousin, Wormed, manage to execute grooves correctly - admittedly theirs are a bit closer to breakdowns than slams, but you can't listen to the infamous groove in the middle of "Ylem" and tell me Wormed don't know how to make a good, decent catchy section. Let me ask you: do you think "Babykiller" would be as revered of a song as it is if it featured no triplet patterns at all, just straight eighth notes for four minutes? If your answer is yes; 1) by golly, Chapters of Repugnance is your dream album for slams, and 2) you're officially retarded, sorry.
I feel like I need to briefly address the slightly jazzy interludes littered throughout the album's songs, since people tend to talk about them as if they're something completely new and innovative. They're actually pretty basic: imagine the bass taking center stage and playing a slightly freeform, dissonant, twangy solo over some similarly shifting and technical drum fills, and you've encompassed the extent of this album's "jazz influences". It's not awful by any means, but...really, Defeated Sanity fans? You think this is something worth not only pointing out, but revering and pointing to as evidence that the band members are virtuosos? News flash: tech-death bands have been pulling off these sorts of interludes since, at the very least, the early 2000s - their presence is certainly nothing special, even if they are executed pretty well here. Defeated Sanity could probably make a song on their next album consisting of three minutes of a sustained power chord and their fans would find some way to construe this as evidence of the band being the collective personification of Jesus Christ returned to Earth.
In conclusion, people who like Chapters of Repugnance are most likely either neophytes to the heavier side of death metal who were abruptly drawn into this album by the massive hype surrounding it, music theory nerds who grade art exclusively based on how complex a work is and not on the final presentation thereof, or those really dumb kinds of brutal death metal fans who have no quality control and worship any band who ever cited Dying Fetus or Devourment as an influence. All in all, this album is actually pretty good from a strictly melodic and songwriting-wise perspective (but certainly not perfect, hell no: while it's proficient at what it does, it doesn't do much in the way of carving a unique atmosphere for itself, plus the wacky-timed chugging can get a bit grating at times), but the horrid guitar tone robs it of two crucial things: the clarity needed to showcase the riffs (which is where Wormed do not err), and the texture needed to instill an atmosphere of true heaviness and brutality (which is where Enmity, Neoandertals, et al. do their part). It's certainly possible to appreciate this album on a strictly musical level, but its flaws are simply too ubiquitous and irritating to ignore. In a sentence: there is no God to be found here, and all things considered, atheism is really the only sensible response to the false deity that is Chapters of Repugnance.
This album is just incredible. I can't find a single thing to criticise.
The album begins with an instrumental called "Introitus" which has some slow build up similar to "Hell Awaits", and when it does kick in it shows you exactly what kind of instrumentation you'll be looking at on this release. Heavy bassy slams, technical riffage and insane blast beats courtesy of Lille Gruber. Following this intro, we are met instantly with AJ Magana's impressive vocals and some more of those awesome riffs.
Christian Kühn's riffs are complex, but also very groovy, and always serve to follow into some very well played slam sections. There are a couple of quick bursting solos to be found on here as well, which may surprise you at first, especially as this as an album that relies on being technical and brutal without the use of neo-classical shredding like Necrophagist and so many bands like them. Jacob Schmidt's bass tone is very heavy and adds to the overall atmosphere of this album. There even a few jazzy bass solos such as on "Consumed By Repugnance". As already stated, AJ Magana's vocals are very impressive. He relies on being as guttural as possible, while still having some character and being surprisingly understandable in some places. Lille Gruber blasts away at his kit while changing it up with odd time signatures, gravity blasts and complex fill work and he performs all this intricate drumwork with such ease and competence. It really is incredibly impressive.
The production is very bass heavy and well mixed. Everything can be heard perfectly. Nothing is drowned out. It really adds to the dark atmosphere this album has, which is also supported by the samples no brutal death metal band can seem to go without. Thankfully, these aren't samples placed because Defeated Sanity thought it would be lols. These are samples that seem to have some significance to the music in question. The intro to Blissfully Exsanguinated will have you painting a picture on your head of some poor woman being tortured by a sadistic madman.
Overall, a superb album. Well worth picking up by any brutal/technical death metal fan.
Highlights: Consumed By Repugnance, Introitus, Blissfully Exsanguinated, Lurid Assimilation, Coerced Into Idolatry
I absolutely love this album. Seriously, it's one of the very few albums that I can listen to several times in one sitting and not get bored of it at all. It still retains most of the crushing impact that it had the first time I heard it, and again that is something that is pretty rare amongst death metal albums; even Devourment starts to feel slightly more tame after a couple of listens. This is seriously heavy, crushingly brutal stuff with a very dark atmosphere helped along by a few sinister samples (such as the woman being tortured at the start of Blissfully Exsanguinated).
However, this is not mindless brutality. No siree, this is also a very technical album but not in the usual *really fast double bass drumming wankywankywankysolo more really fast drumming* tech death style, which I will admit to liking quite a lot but which isn't to everyone's liking and can often bring accusations of the musicians simply showing off. No, the technicality here is more in a jazzy sense, which instead of perhaps distracting from the song structure and heaviness actually contributes to it by making the music deeper and more challenging. Comparisons to Suffocation are not unfounded, but don't think that Defeated Sanity are yet another Suffo-clone like Human Filleted (who are incredibly boring) as they really have their own thing going on here. And yes, they do have slams. And yes, they are fucking awesome.
The instruments here are used very well, although it's difficult to really analyse them well as they all tend to somewhat merge together (again, think sort of like Suffocation) into creating a wall-of-noise type effect, but a very grooving and powerful wall of noise at that. Lille Gruber (when he's not seeking vengeance against John McClane for the deaths of his brothers) is a very technical drummer and is not too high in the mix, being audible enough to focus on if you want but not stealing all the limelight like they can do in some metal albums. The same goes for the vocals, which are prominent but not so much that they just drown everything out.
On the subject of vocals I am a huge fan of AJ Magana's voice on this album! I'm not sure if I've even heard his stuff with Disgorge (I've only really listened to Parallels Of Infinite Torture) but I'm definitely a massive fan of him now! Deep but not ridiculous, raw but not forced and they fit perfectly with the music!
Anyway, back to the instruments and the guitar work here is also used to great effect, chugging away in normal brutal death metal fashion when it's suitable (i.e. during the more slamming sections) but also performing some very complex and powerful riffs, the kind of stuff that can really make or break an album of this sort, so kudos to Mr Kühn for his excellent work! Unfortunately it's not always too easy to hear it clearly, which is a downside of this very bassy mix and production, but when you do it's very good! The bass actually has a part to play in all of this, which is somewhat of a rarity in a modern death metal album. Aside from individual bass parts like at 2:50 in on Consumed By Repugnance (a very good song) where he has a pretty impressive short solo the bass is usually at least somewhat audible and it really helps with the deep, bass heavy production to create a crushing atmosphere.
Unlike a lot of death metal albums this is genuinely sinister in an "OH MY FUCK IT'S GOING TO DESTROY ME AND EVERYONE I LOVE" kind of way and is really very impressive in terms of both technical ability and the atmosphere that it manages to create. This atmosphere is due in no small part to the very bassy production job, which is absolutely fantastic in my eyes/ears. Truly haven't heard a production and mixing this well done or suited to the music in a long time! Certainly one of my favourite albums ever and one to rival Suffocation in the brutal death metal scene. Seriously brilliant. The only downside would be that with this style of music the tracks tend to merge together, but each song here has its own individuality and actually manages to avoid even this issue. Fuck, this is so good.
In closing, this is a brilliant album. Truly crushing and powerful, with a lot of talent and skill involved. Highly respectable, and one of the very few albums involving slams that isn't repetitive or boring. I would recommend every track, as even the intro is pretty cool which really is a rarity!
Brutal death metal is truly a love-it or hate-it genre of metal. Whether it be the faster paced variety in the vein of Insidious Decrepancy, Pathology, and Fleshgod Apocalypse, or the controversial slam-death variety, brutal death metal is a divider in the metal community. Most bands labeled as such are dime-a-dozen Suffocation or Devourment ripoffs with a total lack of songwriting ability and/or talent. However, in this field of death metal, one band stands apart from the rest: that band is Defeated Sanity.
This four piece from Germany has been at it for quite some time now, initially forming in 1994. Sixteen years, several lineup changes, two full lengths, and multiple demos and split albums later, they have released what could possibly become a landmark, classic brutal death metal album. Their 2004 effort "Prelude to the Tragedy" was a very solid debut. 2007's "Psalms of the Moribund" upped the ante in the entire death metal genre with its ferocious onslaught of jazz-influenced death metal which no other band had performed as well since Atheist back in the late 80s. But both of those albums pale in comparison to this monstrous slab of brutality.
"Chapter of Repugnance" opens up rather quietly with "Introitus" (Latin for "intro?" Whatever.), with the band jamming out in a spastic manner, building up to full volume around the minute and a half mark. This track serves mostly to give a tiny idea of what is going to be experienced in the next half hour, approximately. Then "Consumed By Repugnance" opens like a punch to the gut, with Lille Gruber blasting away. It slows down shortly, into a vicious slam section, after which the pace picks up again. All the tracks here start off very fast-paced, save for "Blissfully Exsanguinated," which begins with an ominous sample. Another "creepy" sample can be found in "Coerced Into Idolatry" at the the minute mark.
What Defeated Sanity did on this album is fairly simple: they combined slow slam sections, breakneck speed parts, and jazzy interludes (which are very well done; Gruber and bassist Jacob Schmidt are one hell of a rhythm section) along with a foreboding (gasp) atmosphere. This atmosphere is made real by the production. Fuck, I've never once heard an album this bassy and atonal. Is this a bad thing though? Death metal albums lack bass nowadays, so this is actually refreshing, and, as stated before, it gives the music another dimension with the atmosphere it conveys. However, there's so much bass that it tends to drown out the other instruments . . . upon first listen. Repeated listens (according to my iTunes, I've listened to this album over 100 times already, so I get it) will reveal more than just bassy atonality. Subtleties not heard on the first listen will show themselves eventually. Also, the guitar and drums will become more pronounced.
The riffs are almost exclusively played on the top 2 or 3 strings, with the only (semi)solo being heard in "Lurid Assimilation," which lasts the better part of 5 seconds. Instead of soloing, Christian Kuehn (the only guitarist in the band, by the way) focuses on the brutal chug and groove. Despite being played on few strings, the riffs are far more complex than one would imagine; they're not just slamming riffs, there are true death metal riffs to be found here, you just have to hear beyond that thundering bass tone. Bassist Jacob Schmidt has his hands full, whether it be doubling the guitar riffs or keeping up with Lille Gruber, a.k.a. Flo, Version 2. Schmidt performs his task admirably, and his services are not unappreciated (production-wise) as compared to many death metal bands today. A.J. Magana, previously of Disgorge and Deprecated, suffers from the same syndrome as both previous Defeated Sanity vocalists: he's good at what he does, but his performance hardly adds any substance to the music, if any.
Yes, Lille Gruber deserves his own paragraph. When Flo Mounier dies of playing so goddamn fast for so long or his limbs inevitably detach themselves citing physical abuse, Gruber is hands down the only worthy replacement. Despite being a Flo fanboy myself, I have no problem in admitting Lille Gruber is at, if not immeasurably close to, his level of ability. Gruber mixes up his blasts more than enough so that they're not monotonous, and he utilizes the gravity blast sparingly but to great effect (the way gravities should be used). His cymbal and fill work is top notch. He does not merely use not-so-standard time signatures, he toys with them. He makes this performance seem downright simple, when any metal fan goddamn jolly well knows it's difficult to the extreme to play the way he does.
"Prelude to the Tragedy," I like you. "Psalms of the Moribund," you're even better. "Chapters of Repugnance," you're my favorite. Defeated Sanity is at the top of their game. Each member, vocalist excluded, shreds the fuck out of their respective instrument, and the songwriting has improved since their last full length. As for being brutal, yes, this album is far more brutal than anything since "Despise the Sun," but there's so much more to it than that. Don't believe my typed-equivalent of fellatio? Then check it out yourself. Have fun having your skull smashed and balls crushed by this album, which it WILL do if you aren't totally prepared. It's truly a brutal death metal masterpiece, and only time will show the imprint it will leave on the genre of death metal.
Defeated Sanity's "Psalms of the Moribund" was a fantastically brutal experience. Brutal death metal has never been so abrasive or wild since Suffocations debuts, but again Defeated Sanity takes the throne.
Chapters of Repugnance is more or less the same album as Psalms. I don't mean that it uses the same riffs, but that the brutality, technicality, and overall power of the music is kept intact. However, the band has leaped in new directions such as including a jazzy breakdown section in the title track, complete with a smashing china over a funky bass line.
Another difference is A.J. Magana (ex-Disgorge). The previous vocalist was similar to Magana in terms of monotony, but the older's monotony was in pig squeals which lowered the viciousness of Psalms, but Magana's guttural spewing is far more fitting for this ultra-brutal death metal.
Anyways, the album itself is absolutely fantastic. Drummer Lille Gruber is still pounding like a hammer, even throwing hyper-blasts at some very prudent moments, and now he even knows when to slow down to a crawl to have the music hammer your fucking head into dust. Sadly, his snare is a bit weaker than his last, but overall the drums sound incredible.
The guitar sound (and yes, this is one guitarist...no doubt multiple guitar tracks, however) is magnificent. Wolfgang was/is an old man, and it is to his credit that he slammed the Psalms riffs the way he did, but his strumming hand was nowhere near as heavy and terse as the new Christian's. When he needs to play hyper fast and fluid, you hear nothing but slick note progression, and when the slams hit all you hear is a massive *THUNK* *THUNK* of down-tuned hellfire. The bass is, miraculously, quite loud and quite present. You will occasionally hear the bass drowned out by the pure cacophony of the drums, but mostly you can hear the bass weaving along with the guitar parts.
The vocals, as I said, are still monotonous. What is different is the delivery and the overall appeal. Sure gurgles are a little disgusting and kind of dumb in concept, but I would ask for no better vocalist for Defeated Sanity. Magana belts pure hate, and his groove and rhythm is perfect for the band. I still wish Disgorge (USA) would learn to not shift their vocals a couple half-steps, because you get this awesome growl sound, as portrayed on this album.
Penultimately, the production: Psalms had crazy thick production, but this album a somewhat grungier and darker tone combined with how Psalms sounded to give a feeling of foreboding and brutality that has been lost since Pierced From Within. The drums are well presented, but the snare "pops" a little too much, and the bass guitar has a slightly off tone. Other than that, the production is well done, and A.J. Magana's vocals are kept at a perfect volume for the music. Some of the songs even have well-placed and occasionally frightening samples and ambient pieces.
The NYDM breakdowns are aplenty, the crazy Flo Mounier drumming is still there, the guitars are heavy and groovier (in a good way, like the half way mark of Engulfed in Excruciation), and the vocals are way improved. This is...this better than Psalms? If you would've told me that last year, I would've told you to fuck off because you'd be an idiot, but damn if this isn't better by high marks. Defeated Sanity have, officially, topped Suffocation in the brutal...no, the entire death metal genre. Meet the new masters.
- Heavier guitars, meatier production
- Improved vocals
- Slams are crazy (look at the end of Engulfed in Excruciation)
- Bass is audible
- Songwriting has improved nicely
- Stylistically; nearly identical to Psalms of the Moribund
"The. Most. Brutal. Release. Of. 2010." is the proclamation of the sticker on the front of Defeated Sanity's latest, Chapters of Repugnance. It's a rather bold statement for Willowtip to make with eight months still left in the year and with Hour of Penance's Paradogma already on the shelves. But fans of Disgorge, Pathology, and Decrepit Birth's ...And Time Begins just might agree.
Germany's Defeated Sanity (Yes little Bieber, there is a country called "Germany.") has already released a pair of solid brutal death metal albums during this decade. Defeated Sanity's past albums have required some patience to fully absorb due to their complexity and the overwhelming wall of sound created by their blurry riffs and gurgled, indecipherable vocals. Chapters of Repugnance takes these traits and cranks them up full blast. In fact, this may be Defeated Sanity's most impenetrable album yet.
Defeated Sanity has had a different vocalist on each one of its full-lengths. Chapters of Repugnance continues that tradition. Former Disgorge vocalist AJ Magana has taken over vocal duties. (He appears on Disgorge's Consume the Forsaken.) His vocals are not too different from previous Defeated Sanity vomit gurglers. His monotonous growling may be one of the main aspects that will keep some people from liking this album. He never really changes "pitch" much except briefly on "Salacious Affinity." This does not bother me personally since it is what I have come to expect from this band. Tone-wise, Magana sounds like Suffocation's Frank Mullen at his most guttural and indecipherable. It is difficult to follow the lyrics, even with the lyric sheet in hand, much like Lord Worm's performance on Cryptopsy's None So Vile. The lyrics, if you choose to try to follow along, are grotesque with a sense of unsettling realism. Although they deal with the standard gory topics, you can tell that some thought was put into writing them.
Musically, Chapters of Repugnance varies among nearly indistinguishable blurs of blast beats coupled with fleet-fingered riffs, moments of well-honed technicality, and Suffocation-style chugging with a few jazzy fills thrown in for good measure. Each of these qualities often appear within the same song. The guitar work is technical and precise, yet somehow messy and sludgy at the same time. The chunky, complicated parts sound like they could have come from Pierced From Within. Yet, other riffs fly by in a flurry of practically indistinct notes. These bewildering guitar parts are usually paired with blasting drums, making them reminiscent of the most chaotic elements of early Cryptopsy. Guitar solos do not play a very important role on this album. In fact, the only true guitar solo is a brief spastic "Slayer solo" that doesn't show up until the final track. The bass frequencies on Chapters of Repugnance are as thick as a Biggest Loser contestant. While the bass guitar can be heard with relative ease, it makes its presence more obvious through floppy-stringed fills in both "Blissfully Exsanguinated" and the title track. The bottom-heavy production actually helps the album overall. The added thickness really beefs up Defeated Sanity's sound and is a noticeable improvement over their past releases. The drums are all over the place with tempo changes, fills-a-plenty, and tasty accents on the bell of the ride cymbal. The coolest aspect of the drumming is definitely the use of tempo shifts over the course of a song. All of the instruments lock together throughout these tempo changes. Sometimes these changes are abrupt and choppy, even stuttering. In other instances, a riff will gradually speed up while all of the instruments stay in synch like a flock of birds shifting in the wind, or a school of fish changing direction simultaneously. These gradual shifts in speed are almost imperceptible unless you are listening closely.
There's not too much to differentiate the songs of Chapters of Repugnance on the first several listens. While the album begins to approach being catchy on songs like "Engulfed in Excruciation," "Blissfully Exsanguinated," and "Calculated Barbarity," it never quite makes it there. This release requires your undivided attention if you are going to truly get something deeper out of it. On its surface, it's just a solid wall of death metal that you could play as background music and nothing more. If you take the time to really focus on the songs with no distractions, you will discover a multitude of things to enjoy about it. The complex riffs will rise higher out of the sonic muck with each listen. Parts will begin to stick in your memory piece by piece. It takes a while to figure out what's going on, and that's what makes Chapters of Repugnance so enjoyable.
Is this the most brutal album of 2010? I suppose that depends on your definition of "brutal," but it's definitely a contender. Whatever your definition, this is one kick-ass slab of death metal. In fact, Chapters of Repugnance may be the best album I've heard in this sub-subgenre of Disgorge-style ultra-brutality. Defeated Sanity's latest is not for everyone. In fact, it seems that it's mostly for the brutal death metal die-hards. Luckily, the half-hour running length helps keep this oppressively dense album digestible for those who are willing to give it the necessary time it requires. I know I'll be coming back for more soon.
Originally written for http://www.metalpsalter.com
With this, their latest album, Defeated Sanity have secured their place in the death metal Hall of Fame. I always said that I would never rate an album at 0 or 100, but anything other than full marks here will just not do. There are a few criticisms I have but they seem so insignificant when compared with the unrestrained genius clear from start to finish on this album. Since getting this a couple of weeks ago it's been played at least two or three times a day and I don't foresee stopping it anytime soon. So then, let me start from the beginning...
Defeated Sanity are a band I've known of and followed for years. I've seen them live many times and shared the stage with them on more than a couple of occasions. I always thought they were something of a cutting edge band that never seemed to quite meet their potential. Last summer though, the set they played at the Mountains of Death festival - the first time I'd seen them as a four-piece - was one of the most overwhelmingly impressive musical performances I've witnessed, of ANY genre, and I wasn't alone in thinking that. After witnessing such an onslaught, I just knew this would be the album that they'd finally get that potential onto disc.
The album begins with the track 'Introitus', with guitar, drums and dark atmospheric sounds gradually fading in over the first minute. This develops into a sequence of mid-paced chugging, thrashy technical riffs which in turn drop into the first 'slam' or breakdown of the album. Let me first dispel any ideas of this band playing anything remotely boring, predictable in their slam sections. This band just doesn't 'do' boring or predictable.
Most of the riffs involve the expected heavily palm muted chords, trem picking and pinch harmonics but riffs appear from nowhere, some slow, some fast, some where in between. Jazzy flourishes instantly set this band apart from the rest of the brutal crowd and tempo changes occur every few bars in some parts. The arrangements are so deliciously insane, but they craft it all so it still makes perfect sense. Once the album is underway there are only a handful of distinctive moments which I can describe and condense into a review worth reading. However, one I'll attempt to describe is found towards the end of the second track 'Consumed By Repugnance'. The guitars suddenly drop out with the bass and drums left to play a technical off-kilter jazz-like groove, unlike anything yet heard in death metal. The drums then play a suitably jazzy fill alone to round things off, before everything literally slams back in with a relatively simple, brutal palm-muted section. The track ends with further relentless technical barrage. I hope that suitably conveys some of the craziness and greatness of the album, but I am struggling to really describe how good this really is and why.
The instrumental performance on this album more or less flawless. The guitar work is very tight, and considering how technical this stuff is, that's no simple task. So far I've not mentioned much about the bass, and that's also just about flawless. Most of the time the bass follows the guitars, and that alone is impressive enough, occasionally playing 'lead' parts. The playing is impressive and well suited throughout. Lille Gruber's drumming on this album has reached new heights. It's still the usual mix of blasts, gravity rolls and odd fills but it's just tighter, faster and even more jazzy than before. There really is no one now who can touch him in terms of inventiveness and being able to add something extra to the riffs. The vocals are much better than on the previous albums, being performed by A.J Magana, previously of Disgorge. His vocals are powerful gutturals throughout the album. Still though, I think the vocals could be better. Sometimes they aren't perfectly tight, they're too high in the mix for me and they're recorded on different tracks which are all panned differently. This means certain words or lines come in from the left or right and when there are a few track of vocals on the go at once they dominate the mix further. It's just a minor criticism really, the vocal performance is largely excellent, but this is about all I can find to criticize.
The production on this album is the main reason why I think it is a vast improvement on the previous albums. It's very clear and allows all the instruments to be heard well, but it's very dark and doesn't sound at all overproduced. They really managed to capture their crushing live performance It's almost perfectly in between the rough and overproduced sounds that plague most current brutal death metal. The guitar tone is good but lacks a little clarity at times. I know this tone was intentional but I'd prefer something slightly crisper than this.
In relation to their other albums, this is if anything a bit simpler. The technicality is still there, it's just broken up more with more extended slam sections. If you're looking for a short review of the album all I can say is this is simply THE technical and brutal death metal album of the new millennium. It's dark, brutal, incredibly technical death metal. I look forward to theirs and other's attempts to do better.