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Truly, Disgustingly, Relentlessly Brutal - 93%

Crank_It_Up_To_666, June 9th, 2008

About halfway through ‘Psalms Of The Moribund’, you suddenly come to a realisation of sorts – that Defeated Sanity, one of the strongest brutal German death metal bands around today, have come extraordinarily close to producing music that upsets the human vitals, with unpleasant-smelling results.
Sure, the brown note is a myth in music, but the sound on ‘Psalms...’ is certainly a disturbingly close approximation of what that myth might really sound like in reality. This is modern brutal death metal that achieves what many aim for but only a select amount attain – this is a record that sounds like it’s trying to rip itself free of the speakers and tear out the innards of every person in the room.

The songs found here are relatively short blasts of brutal noise, with the album’s total run time clocking in at barely 30 minutes, but they are a 30 minutes of the kind of delight only a relentless bludgeoning can deliver. Defeated Sanity are students of the kind of death that cares only for said bludgeoning (a somewhat ironic description considering one of their superb guitarists Wolfgang Teske is over 50 years old), and all the requisite elements of brutal death metal are present and correct; growling vocals with such a low rumble about them they upset the Richter scale, detuned, mercilessly crunching riffs, and crashing breakdowns are everywhere like a malign, malevolent presence.

But where such musical leanings would incite an infectious strain of boredom due to the simple fact that such things have all been done before, Defeated Sanity have the good wisdom to inject their material with many varied strains of fresh blood. ‘Psalms...’ is saved from becoming one relentlessly dull breakdown-a-thon by the band’s willingness to experiment with a greater scope of elements, such as their repeated delves into more technically minded musical wizardry. Each and every song negotiates sublimely between unremittingly brutal blast beats, through ultra slow, crushingly powerful breakdowns, right up to contorting, writhing technical passages that twist and turn around the eardrums like a serpent coiling itself in complicated patterns around the neck at light speed.
What really impresses here is the fact that every collision between the technical and the brutal is handled with such expert skill and poise – a crunching deathly riff will merge seamlessly into a bout of fretboard dancing, even the occasional, frenetic, atonal solo, and the elements never once jar up against each other. ‘Engorged With Humiliation’ is a prime example, featuring a crawling beatdown part that suddenly erupts into a pounding hyperspeed riff without missing a beat and never leaving the listener behind.

The album is not entirely free from downsides, though these in the end are entirely dependent on the individual listener. Key among them is Jens Staschel’s absolute insistence on spending the album’s 30 minute run time pushing his voice into a stupendously low gurgle, and he exhibits the least variety in his performance out of all the band members – no growls, no screams, just this relentless gurgling throughout. That said, this is perhaps the key factor that gives ‘Psalms...’ it’s discomforting effect – Staschel’s vocals, seemingly devoid a pitch shifter (rejoice!), lend the material that quality that upsets the internals in a very real way.

The production on display is suitably meaty and engorged with bodily juices, though it lacks the polish of much modern death metal which may be refreshing for those looking for a more gritty kind of bloodbath. However, drummer Lille Gruber unfortunately has to work hard against the mix, which doesn’t lend his kit the greatest deal of clout, though his powerfully consistent performance sees him more than achieve this feat on the likes of ‘Butchered Identity’ and ‘Stoned Then Defiled’. While bassist Jacob Schmidt doesn’t exactly lay down the most memorable work on the album (barring the jazzy bass intro on ‘Arousal Through Punishment’), it’s a joy simply to be able to hear his bass, a rarity on brutal death metal records today. Meanwhile, twin guitarists Teske and Christian Kuehn provide the instrumental highlights, their beefy guitar sounds virtually made for the material at hand – the main riff to titular track ‘Psalms Of The Moribund’ is something akin to being struck about the face with an axe.

Defeated Sanity hear lay down some of the most consistent and musically proficient brutal death metal you’ll have heard in quite some time. A triumphant blending of many of the elements that make two very diverse metal genres so great, this album will appease fans all across the death metal board - ‘Psalms Of The Moribund’ will not disappoint in the slightest.