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Dehumanized's debut came a lot later than fellow influential NYDM bruisers Pyrexia and Internal Bleeding, coming out in 1998, 5 years after Sermon of Mockery and 3 years after Voracious Contempt. They also split up rather more quickly, while Pyrexia and Internal Bleeding would put out a selection of mediocre efforts. This led to Dehumanized to become rather underrated in the brutal death metal scene, compared to other bands like Suffocation, Disgorge and the aforementioned Pyrexia and Internal Bleeding.
However, they would reunite years later with a new lineup (only drummer George Torres and guitarist Rich Nagasawa returning from the Prophecies Foretold lineup) and put out a new album called Controlled Elite. In some ways I prefer this to Prophecies Foretold. While it's got a much more modern clean production job, it's offers far more interesting riffs and vocal patterns as well as guest appearances from members of Suffocation (my all time favourite band).
The guitar work is rooted deeply in the mid 90s brutal death metal scene, with a lot of influence from the more recent slam movement. Consisting of some very Suffocation-esque technical chops, pounding breakdowns and some excellent solo work from Nagasawa (and a little from Terrance Hobbs late on the album), there is never a dull moment on the album.
The guitars also have a very crunchy tone that makes them all that more heavier. Bass player Anthony Cossu doesn't really get much of a chance to shine, mostly following the guitars, but it is very nice to hear it for once despite a modern production job.
The drumwork is my first real complaint. They're competently played, mostly consisting of blast beats and liberal use of double bass, but the tone isn't all that great, in fact it's very weak and lifeless sounding and sometimes inaudible compared to the fantastic drum tone on Prophecies Foretold. Regardless, it doesn't ruin the enjoyment of this album too much.
New vocalist Michael Centrone gives a great performance, using mostly a mid-range death growl and occasionally switching to a more guttural style, comparable to Frank Mullen of Suffocation fame (who makes an appearance of his own on the title track) while also using some more high pitched shrieks on select points throughout the album. It keeps the album much more interesting compared to Jerry Barco's non-stop gurgle on Prophecies Foretold.
In closing, this is an outstanding modern brutal death metal release that should suit the fancy of any fan of brutal/slam death metal. Support this underrated band.
Highlights: Set in Stone, Controlled Elite, Body Colonizers
Dehumanized burst into the NYC death metal scene propelled by their classic New York slam style death metal in 1998 with their debut "Prophecies Foretold". 90s death metal was an ever-evolving scene, its main feature being that of speedy and complex riffing to rival the more tone-based and heavy riffing of the 80s. Despite being a frontrunner of such a scene, Dehumanized still managed to set themselves apart from the rest with their clever manipulation and addition of metalcore-style breakdowns as can be seen in their new album, "Controlled Elite".
Listening to the album, I realized something special about this band that reeks strangely of “cool”. I don’t know if the right words to use would be “badass” or “swag” – the latter of which is a word with a denunciatory connotation – but it’s there and if there’s no word for it, that could be a good thing for the band. They might be able to patent it. That being said, that general characteristic again does its work in setting the band apart from other bands in the death metal genre, some of whose “characters” and “personalities” can be said to be overkill. You have your morbid types, horror types, brooding types, and then you have Dehumanized, who sound like they were raised in the ghetto and have it tougher and cooler than Eminem does. You can just imagine the band stalking and prowling the stage as they work their essence of cool into the crowd. I guess it’s just a New York thing.
The band’s promo described the music as infused with “bludgeoning blast beats and plenty of old school NYC style grooves with colossal audio production!” which cannot be truer. As was said earlier, these guys propagate slam style death metal, and you can’t really propagate unless you’re good at what you do. Technique-wise, there’s nothing to shout about, but the songs all pack a thick punch, especially with those genius breakdowns. However it’s not to be forgotten that this is a death metal band. The ominous, bleak, and menacing feel is there, but this band comes off as cleaner than most. Vocalist Michael Centrone certainly has some chords, and he does an interesting job of infusing variation into each song with his diverse techniques. The drums, as with most death metal albums, are great as well, but what really got me on the boat was the “colossal audio production”. Colossal might be an exaggeration, but there is a nice, clean sound there coupled with a clear tone in all instruments that I crave for in death metal bands. Yes, they crunch, but each static aberration in the distortion is clear and gratifyingly so.
Overall, it’s a commendable album. If you’ve noticed, I didn’t really pinpoint any one song from the album to critique, mainly because the songs weren’t the killer standouts that defined them as a band. It was the entire thing packed up together that had an impact – together. Dehumanized is one of those bands that can’t be picked apart by the individual songs they produce. Their work has to be taken in as a whole mainly because all of it is built on their personality and character. All this leads up to the album being an enjoyable listen, though slightly unexceptional, but still one of the good ones I’ve heard in the past months.
Originally written for http://www.metal-temple.com
Dehumanized's "Controlled Elite" is nothing short of a death metal classic. While there is nothing new or innovative here, these guys really know how to keep the torch lit, so to speak. Combining nice, thick drum work with razor sharp guitars and an ever so slight grindcore element, this cd would be a satisfactory addition to any collection.
As far as influences go, fans of Broken Hope, Malevolent Creation, Vomitory, Krisiun, and Vital Remains will definitely want to pick this up. Starting this cd off is the track "Bloodties". Right off the bat this track is right in your face. What stands out most to me is the guitars, which remind me a bit of the work done on Entombed's "Left Hand Path" and "Clandestine". Everything from the vocal patterns to the tempo are done very well here and this leads us into the track "Body Colonizers". This track is like a nod to the old school with a new school attitude. Pretty simplistic riffs and drumming here, but what I really like about this song is the echo effect of the vocals in certain parts. Not much else here as this is a fairly short tune.
"Soiled" starts off with a nice little Suffocation-type vibe. Awesome riffing going on here. Up until now, this is the first track on the cd where everything fits together flawlessly. Some might think that these tunes are too simplistic, but it's when you try to be too technical and add too much filler and bullshit that you screw everything up. Now, "Set in Stone" comes in with a Deicide/Bolt Thrower vibe (if you can picture that). Really cool solo around the 2:30 mark. The only other thing I can say about this track is that these guys have made their mark and their mark is "Set in Stone". "Controlled Elite" is one of those songs that has a movie clip-type intro to it. These types of songs are beginning to annoy me a bit. For one, the intro doesn't seem to fit the brutality of the ensuing tune. The song itself kicks ass from first note to last, but I think it was a poor choice by the band to include the intro here. "Immorally Reborn" opens up with nice riffing and reminds me why I love this form of music. A Malevolent Creation vibe from "Retribution", "Stillborn", and "In Cold Blood" really creeps up on me here. This is definitely one of the best tracks on the cd. They totally knock it out of the park with this one. The riffs seem semi-technical here, which sets this song apart from the others.
"His Burden" is yet another example of the phrase "Brutality Through Simplicity". The one thing that annoys me about this song are the higher-end vocals. Believe me, they do not do this song justice, however I am very thankful that they aren't pig squeals! Not that those are a bad thing, they just wouldn't work here at all. "Root of Evil" is an interesting track. While it may not be melodic in structure, it almost sounds melodic in delivery. The solo work is really good and I will go on to say that this is the 2nd track where everything fits perfectly. Absolutely nothing wrong here.
"None Shall Remain" seems to be the main headbanging song on the cd. You just can't help but headbang to the beginning of this tune. This is one that should be played at maximum volume. This is absolutely bad ass. Pure death metal the way it was meant to be played. This leaves us with "Man vs. Man". It starts off with a really cool Despised Icon/Krisiun vibe with a really cool solo at about the 1:55 mark, This is an awesome way to end the cd and they definitely end it on a high note. If you want something fresh, new, and innovative, then do not buy this cd, but if you fly the flag of true and brutal death metal high and proud, then buy this and support Dehumanized!
From what I've read on the band, Dehumanized has been trying in vain to get back off the ground since their cult classic "Prophecies Foretold" came out a decade-and-a-half ago. The band has had much lineup instability, with only drummer George Torres (who I seem to recall showed up to a Mortician set at Metalfest back in 2000 only to not even play) and guitarist Rich Nagasawa remaining from the previous full-length.
While George can sometimes really kill it - dig the bomb blasts in "Immorally Reborn" for all the proof you need - there are many times on this disc, like on "None Shall Remain," the slow-down in "His Burden," and opener "Body Colonizers" where I struggle to NOT focus on his desperate need for a metronome. It really is the only awful part of this whole disc. Sometimes he even tends to stray from the original tempo in such a way that it makes a fun guessing game as to where the one-beat is going to be. Reminds me sometimes of Duane Timlin when he used to play for Divine Empire and damn-near made that band intolerable; only difference being that when George is on it, he's fucking on it! As for the riffage contained herein, Rich and his co-guitarist Paul Tavora really do have a nice gift of mosh-ready death metal songwriting. Make no mistake, this isn't tech-death by any stretch, but where the riffs can sometimes be simplistic as one palm-mute per beat, it's punctuated by some downright awesome Suffocation-esque flourishes where they can get fast, throw in a complex, angular picking pattern, or even a great guitar solo that comes out of left field but is still tastefully done. Vocalist Michael Centrone is downright killing it here, too. Gutteral without being ridiculous (no pig squeals here!), and still oozing testosterone with how he bellow his lines, this is what death metal vocals were always meant to be. Flat-out, balls out!
It's not groundbreaking, but nothing in this genre is really meant to be. What this music is meant for is the fan of brutal death metal who just wants music to bang your head, beat your friends, and smash your neighbors face to. Dehumanized succeed at this brilliantly.
Despite having only one full-length to their credit prior to this one, New York's Dehumanized was a band that generated considerable buzz with its 1998 debut Prophecies Foretold. In particular, a lot of folks here in New England were partial to their thuggish, street level tier of brutality which was quite something else from their fellow statesmen like the over the top, morbid horror inherent to Mortician, or the occult dissonance that drove Immolation. These guys were more along the lines of other New York groups Internal Bleeding, Suffocation and Skinless, or Maryland's Dying Fetus, in how they meted out muscular, hardcore influenced breakdowns to contrast the meticulous, uptempo riffing progressions that were more prevalent in the evolution of 90s death metal.
I can't claim I was the biggest fan of their first album, finding it somewhat underwhelming despite all the hype it was flying on, but I don't think there's any question that Dehumanized know how to put their material together, and regardless of the 14-year gap, Controlled Elite sounds like an album for which no expense was spared, and no amount of effort left by the wayside. In terms of construction, the material is very well balanced to engage both the loping, pit oriented swagger and those who desire something faster and more intricate. You can feel the imprints of both death/thrash and hardcore influences wrought into the mid to late 90s brutal death mainframe, and there is little to no attempt at broaching the walls of callous technicality or experimentation. Controlled Elite isn't even remotely trendy in the genre's current environs, but more of a reaffirmation of the band's identity placed into the context of cleaner, modern production than what was capable their first time out. While I don't enjoy every riff flying off the fretboard, there were plenty of clinical grooves and Napalm Death-like bursts of acceleration here that held my attention through a largely concise set of tunes, most of which hang around 2-3 minutes as to never wear out their welcome.
This is pretty clean sounding, so if you're seeking ominous atmosphere and loads of dissonance in your death metal, Dehumanized is probably not the bloodiest of pastures on which you should graze. The guitars have a nice, firm punch to them during the muted moments, but the chords are also fairly robust and balanced. In particular, the title track stood out for a number of the meat-headed breakdowns that are certainly capable of evoking faux-violence in the live setting. There's a different vocalist here than on the debut, but Michael Centrone does a fairly apt job at implementing percussive variation to his concrete grunt which never exudes the monotony I often feel on a lot of polished, modern brutal death efforts. In addition, these are often paired with snarls to create the good old Deicide dichotomy of wretchedness and revulsion. George Torres' beats provide a dynamic and consistent foundation for the guitars; even at their most minimal stride, he'll pop in a fill or two that keep things entertaining. The bass on the album tends to follow the riffing pattern a bit much for my taste, but it's got a full enough tone that lends some leverage to the bass drum and toms.
The presence of the breakdowns definitely keeps Controlled Elite in line with that urban sensibility that I felt so pervasively on the debut album. Sure, many death and thrash metal bands use them without hesitation, but in the New Yorkers' case, I feel they're pretty well attuned to the needs of their audience. In other words, Dehumanized is the sort of death metal that will have a cross appeal to both the hardcore/metalcore element and the stricter metal fan. But to their credit, it never really feels like a cheap, arbitrary pandering to engage its audience, even if I can't say I enjoy all of the actual mosh rhythms as much as the better defined, surgical streaks of incendiary harmony in the tremolo sequences. The taut leads were solid, but nothing remarkable, and the songs ultimately were not the sort that are likely to have me revisiting the record in the long run (like, for instance, Cannibal Corpse's Bloodthirst or Decapitated's Winds of Creation), but this is a competent and well crafted return to form with an innate appeal for fans of early 90s Napalm Death, Suffocation's Pierced from Within, Pyrexia, Malevolent Creation or the latest from Coldworker.