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A Most Unfortunate Prelude - 60%

Akerfeldt_Fanboi, June 24th, 2012

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.

Pros:

+ "Remnants of the Dead" and "Apocalypse of Filth" stand out as powerful death metal songs
+ Drum tone is good

Cons:

- 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.