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Defeated Sanity is, by now, a household name in terms of brutal death metal. Their 2007 release Psalms of the Moribund was noticed by the general death metal public and critically acclaimed, and then followed up by 2010's equally brilliant Chapters of Repugnance, but the mystery of the debut remained (and apparently still remains judging by the review count compared to those previously mentioned records).
Who would have guessed that the monoliths of Psalms were preceded by energetic, if equally inane death metal? This record is simply unnecessary to be heard because of the total lackluster feel it has. The production is relatively hollow and devoid of any serious balls and does little to back the technical wizardry of Wolfgang Teske and Lille Gruber, and even eschews the bassist Tino Köhler altogether minus a few sparse segments of atmosphere or tremolo. Vocalist Markus Keller's sound dominates the majority of the sounds heard on this record, and his higher registered impression of Frank Mullen leaves much to be desired.
But on to the tunes themselves - they just lack that special "something". Totally unidentifiable and lacking any real impact, everything here just kind of happens. There is no distinct slam, no catchy hook, and the run of the mill-ness of the technical playing is just annoying rather than contributory to the intensity of the music. "Liquifying Cerebral Hemispheres" being the first obvious offender in so far that it sounds like a hodge-podge of riffs rather than the songs the band would find themselves writing. However, when the band does decide to just go for a classic tremolo break or a power chord heavy riff, they still pummel. See the first few riffs in "Tortured Existence" for evidence of the capabilities of the band being avoided for technical mayhem.
Wolfgang Teske's guitar playing is over the top technically speaking, but the arrangement of the riffing and lack of any standout moments - wait...is that a solo? A hooky riff or breakdown? Oh, well no it was just five seconds of slow power chord progressions and now we're back to straight eighth note lines and boredom for another 3 minutes. If only the production could have been more thunderous as to darken the atmosphere and perhaps create one at all, then the guitar sound might have been something other than just...existing in the sound space. If you were to even call these riffs enjoyable, then you must have only heard "Remnants of the Dead" and "Apocalypse of Filth" - the only two above average tunes with movements and passages rather than continuing eighth note progressions.
Lille Gruber's virtuosity is less noticeable on this album, where the drumming is more akin to standard death metal patterns with very little resemblance to the almost Neil Peart level of ingenuity featured on the following records. Every pattern is expected and every fill, though extremely well executed, is just boring. Despite having consistently good drum tones, it just doesn't add up. Unfortunately, I have to say the same of Köhler's bass work as it was the standard "follow the leader" style of bass playing and was inaudible save for a few pock marks they would have likely called solos.
Perhaps listening to Psalms and Chapters before ever hearing this album soured the taste for me. Perhaps hearing this album first would have totally ruined any prospect of good music to come from these twisted German death metallers, but even so we have to look at what is here - average music from the guitars to the vocals back to arrangement and production. Passable death metal.
+ "Remnants of the Dead" and "Apocalypse of Filth" stand out as powerful death metal songs
+ Drum tone is good
- Songwriting is lackluster
- Tendency to remain in the realm of wankery rather than technical flourish and pummeling ferocity
- Production leaves vocals front and center; the last place they needed to be
- The rare sight of an identifiable riff is quickly overshadowed by another mangled technical passage
- Lack of any sort of atmosphere or distinguishable characteristic in the sound space
- Rhythm section meanders and the bass presence is kept to a low
Alas, I cannot recommend this release for any reason other than to have a complete discography. Very standard death metal played by an accomplished guitarist and his average friends, produced by his just as unremarkable engineer. Support the band by buying other albums and merch, just avoid this if you can.
This album is quite different from Defeated Sanity's later works. While they would go on to play slam death metal, which was great, especially considering i'm not a slam fan. However, this release is more of a technical/brutal death metal album in the vein of Effigy-era Suffocation.
There's a lot of technical riffage played here, extremely downtuned and incredibly heavy. They're also quite fast, almost thrashy at parts. They're quite complex (not complex to the point of being absurdly unplayable except by only the most skilled musicians). There's a good amount of bass presence to keep the rhythm and supportthe drums as they blast away while also playing in some complex time signatures. The vocals are quite similar to Frank Mullen's growls, with some more raspy ones similar to those that back up John Gallagher's guttural bellow in Dying Fetus. Naturally, you can't make out any of the lyrics, but if you're reading this review, chances are that doesn't bother you.
There are a couple of solos to be found here, namely on the tracks "Horrid Decomposition" and "Remnants Of The Dead". Quite similar to those found on Suffo songs like Seeds of the Suffering, they're well played and great to hear amongst those crushing riffs and blast beats. A couple of technical breakdowns are heard as well, most notably on opening track "Liquifying Cerebral Hemispheres". They're a good alternative to the heavy fast riffs.
Overall, this is a speedy and intense tech/brutal death metal album for fans of Suffocation and similar bands. While this band would go on to become slam royalty, they began here, and therefore this is a must-have for any Defeated Sanity fan. Get this now.
Defeated Sanity's debut full length "Prelude..." is commonly considered their greatest work. Mainly because of the fact that the vocals are much less extreme than their later singer Jens. I, however, am not that simple-minded.
Before I give this album a stream of attacks I will start out with what I enjoyed about it. The music in itself, is very heavy, complex and most of all completely brutal. Heavy down tuned guitars, blasting complex drums, and wicked bass all seem to devastate the listener from start to finish. The riff changes are always sudden and drastic from tempo in other words they'll be shredding incomprehensibly fast and suddenly convert to a slam style breakdown. This style of playing, which was originally perfected by the Brutal Death Metal Gods Disgorge (American of course.) only serves to perfect an extreme metal bands playing.
But enough fan-boy praising, this album does has a major flaw. Markus Keller, while he is talented, is probably one of the most generic and unoriginal Brutal Death Metal vocalists mainly using the exact same style as Frank Mullen of the great deity's Suffocation. Frank Mullen is of course an extremely original, powerful and talented vocalist. But Markus Keller just seems to be another cheesy remake of his vocals. Another band who do this is Severed Savior which I always found annoying.
The music, which is very well written and otherwise an intense listen. Isn't exactly original or moving. It seems mainly to just recycle Disgorge riffs. Not to mention the fact that the performances, are a tad bit sloppy. Only a tad bit, I for one could never hope to play their material as well as they do.
The mixing and producing job wasn't very good either. It just seemed to be all the instruments every song no mix in volumes or tones. The song Remnants of the Deed does have a way of proving that Markus Keller is very talented and has the ability to be powerful and unique. But it is only the one song.
So after hearing this album for the twentieth time I've reached the verdict that this is a great album, but very unoriginal and passionless. I think the reason I enjoy it as much as I do is because it shows their evolution as musicians. From a generic "metal by numbers" Death Metal band to an extremely talented, brutal, original, passionate and most of all moving band. It is like watching a video of yourself taking your first steps in a way.
If you are looking for a legendary album with passion and originality look else-where, I would suggest their later full-length release "Psalms..." which, in my opinion, is the greatest death metal release since None So Vile. If you're looking for a solid performance and some heavy music. This is a must-have for you...After all, if it ain't broke don't fix it.