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Technical death metal you have in one hand and in the other you have technical brutal death metal. In terms of brutality, the scale favors the latter. As obvious as that might seem even a style like progressive metal can be brutalized if applied the right way and I believe “Passages Into Deformity” accomplished that fairly nice.
With such a effort coming from Defeated Sanity, “Passages Into Deformity” is not exactly an easy album to listen to. If you are truly dedicated in getting something from this album you’ll have to listen through it several times. So much is coming at you that your mind cannot bear to be at ease until it comprehends the album more. It’s definitely a fascinating and interesting album not just another “Look how fast I can play” or “I am the most brutal and goriest band on the face of the planet”. I think it’s great that Defeated Sanity focus more on the music rather than trying to top who has the goriest album cover. As you can see they were quite humble about it, I mean it’s defecating but not wildly explicit. The damage and orifice mutilation is in the music itself. The slow and torturous method but also the mechanically complex contraptions of unthinkable proportions. It conceives severe punishment in small segments at some of the most excruciating pain.
Are Jacob Schmidt and Lille Gruber post-rejected Siamese twins? Even though they each have their own bodies they could’ve fooled me. Their chemistry with their playing is so in sync it’s as if they share one body. What they do in this album is just incredible. The production on "Passages Into Deformity” favorably accommodates Schmidt and Gruber. Creating jazz-fusion bass lines in a few sections which I am a sucker for. He's also able to compliment Gruber’s playing as he fires aggressive progressive drum lines. The drumming is fantastic, no words can explain it. The years have been fortunate as they have matured his style, techniques, and the choices he makes unto the album. On the downside the production flaws the guitar work of Christian Kuhn. I had to adjust my volume to a specific level or else it sounds completely obnoxious if it peaks a certain level. However, while his playing is not the best it sure works great here. I’m absolutely not a fan of slamming metal but it was sufficient. I actually started to play some air riffs along the way, I got sucked into the music.
Gruber brought out the best in everyone that’s probably why I found the riffs enjoyable. To finish the album off he goes into a drum solo on “Martyrium” and while the album ends, It’d be wise to hear “Passages Into Deformity” once again.
Defeated Sanity are known for their mix of early Suffocation/Cryptopsy-esque technical death metal and the slamming brutal death metal style of bands such as Devourment or Disgorge, and on this album the band have managed to improve on both of these styles. To make music more technical while also adding a lot more slam parts is truly an impressive feat. Everything is perfectly balanced. The music really showcases how talented each individual musician is without it getting to the point of them being so technical they're pretty much just showing off.
From the in-your-face-from-the-start riffs and slams of "Initation" to the epic feel of the 6-minute "Perspectives" to the outro to "Martyrium" this album is pretty much non-stop excellence. The riffs laid down by Christian Kühn are insanely memorable and catchy while still being very technical, and the slams come in at exactly the right moments to pound the listener's head in. Defeated Sanity aren't a band to use solos more than once an album, and this time around it's "Perspectives" that contains one, but Defeated Sanity don't really need them as their music is still technical and enjoyable without them.
Jacob Schmidt has always been able to show off what he can do on the bass, but it's on this album where he finally really shines, notably in "Naraka" and "Verblendung", and his performance definitely puts him up there with the likes of DiGiorgio or Langlois. Lille Gruber drops a precision assault with his expert drumming, easily switching between frantic Mounier blast beats and jazzy fills with flair.
Anyone who's ever heard Despondency will know Konstantin Luhring is a very capable death metal vocalist, and he has some big shoes to fill considering Defeated Sanity's previous album was with the almighty AJ Magana on guttural duty (who also provides some guest vocals on this album). Konstantin definitely puts on his best performance, rather than being the one uninspiring element amid the excellent performances from his bandmates.
Overall this is a very worthy addition to Defeated Sanity's already excellent discography, and has the potential to be my definite favourite album of 2013. Even at the end of the year when there's nothing else to come this is still going to be ranked very high. If you're not a fan of the band and you're just browsing reviews i'd personally recommend you start on Chapters of Repugnance first, but any and all fans of Suffocation, early Cryptopsy and perhaps even Human-era Death should find something enjoyable here.
Highlights: Initation, Naraka, Perspectives, Frenzy, Martyrium
It has been nearly three years since Defeated Sanity's last album hit the shelves. 2013 sees the German band's latest dense and nearly impenetrable collection of tunes arriving via Passages Into Deformity. And long-time fans have plenty to be excited about.
Passages Into Deformity is not a radical departure from 2010's Chapters of Repugnance, but there are a few noteworthy changes. For starters, the songs are immediately more memorable due to both the album's greater number of catchy riffs and better production quality. As far as the writing goes, the songs have slightly more repetition and stronger parts that help the songs stick in the listener's head. That's not to say that Defeated Sanity has become easily digestible. In fact, the band is still far from it. But for seasoned brutal death metal listeners, these songs will jump out at them sooner than past Defeated Sanity tunes. Tracks like "Naraka" and "Verblendung," two of the band's best songs to date, make this evident.
The production helps the songs as well by being less bottom-heavy than Chapters of Repugnance and clearer than Psalms of the Moribund. The album's sound sits somewhere in between the two which creates a clarity that allows the songs to shine through Defeated Sanity's trademark dark murkiness. In fact, the production allows the bass and the drums to cut through the mix quite clearly making these instruments the true stars of the album. There are tons of noodly bass parts that are easily audible whether it be during obvious "bass solo fills" like in "Naraka" and "Verblendung" or in a more subtle form as in "Lusting For Transcendence" and "The Purging." Also benefiting from the production style, the drums are constantly moving and add plenty of stuttering time shifts and jazzy grooves that make Passages Into Deformity feel like more than your standard brutal death metal release. While the drumming and bass playing in Defeated Sanity have always been top-notch, the production puts this fact in your face and in this regard brings to mind the work of early Cryptopsy.
Another noteworthy change is actually somewhat more of the same. On Passages Into Deformity, Defeated Sanity has yet another new vocalist. This now makes for four vocalists over the course of four albums. So in essence, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Some may recognize the new vocalist from his time in Despondency, but sound-wise he's really not that different from other Defeated Sanity growlers.
Other than the changes mentioned above, Passages Into Deformity is basically an improved version of the Defeated Sanity we already know. Despite the fact that the songs are more catchy now, it still takes some time for the album to sink in. The riffs remain a collection of blurs of technicality and muddy chugging. There are still few guitar solos with the exception of a brief lead in "Verses of Deformity" and some spastic sort-of-solos in "Perspectives." As mentioned previously, the jazzy fills and floppy bass noodling of the past continue to pepper the tunes as well.
With Passages Into Deformity, Defeated Sanity has essentially taken the strongest points from past releases and blended them into one monster of an album. The stronger production and songwriting help push Passages Into Deformity beyond anything the band has done to date. People who weren't fans in the past still probably won't "get it," but the converted need to buy this immediately. Established fans will be blown away.
Originally written for http://www.metalpsalter.com