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SUCH INTRICATE AND COMPLEX SONGWRITING, I CAN'T - 65%

MutantClannfear, May 16th, 2013

Psalms of the Moribund essentially confirms my suspicions about Defeated Sanity - their album after this, Chapters of Repugnance, was a ridiculously heavy album with some pretty entertaining riffs, rendered limp and lifeless by irritatingly massive and cloudy production. I wagered while listening to it that the formula used on that album would probably work pretty well if the band weren't trying to be the heaviest that ever existed while they played it. And what do you know, apparently on previous albums where Defeated Sanity actually use a somewhat reasonable production job, their music sort of makes sense!

Mind you, we're still not reaching genius levels of quality here, but at least Psalms of the Moribund doesn't manage to totally deflate its potency at performing the one thing it seems determined to do. Compared to the succeeding album, this one seems a bit less full of itself and has its head pulled out of its own ass just enough for the presentation of the music to make a teeny bit of sense.

This is basically brutal death metal that draws from every spectrum of the genre possible. The vocalist here embodies that ideology: DS's vocalist around this era gurgles, croaks, barks, squeals and basically covers every sound you'll find at a barnyard. Musically, you've got a pinch of straightforward, thugging Suffocation-esque stuff and superficially heavy slams, but the majority of what's here is insanely heavy blast beats zooming over churning, downtuned chugs and strangely stripped-down drums floating over grotesque, technical, frantic riffs. The band are really only above-average when it comes to the latter, sadly: the straight, old-school brutal death metal here is pretty yawn-inducing and banal, and the production job doesn't have the chunkiness that would be expected in order to give the slams a bit of weight to hurl around (the guitar tone in general is still a bit too fat and lacking in treble for my tastes, but it's not egregious like it would later be on Chapters of Repugnance). The slams in general just feel a bit too mechanical to work correctly, like the band members were desperately trying to avoid sounding "wiggery" at all costs and achieved such at the cost of the music's actual catchiness.

Really, the thing that it's most amusing to watch Psalms of the Moribund-era Defeated Sanity do is play their special breed of frantic riffs which just spasm violently like a reanimated corpse. There are a lot of these sorts of grotesque, ugly riffs lurking around the album, and it's pretty cool when the band pull one off. A lot of times they'll drop the blasts behind these kinds of riffs and just accent it with classy, precisely accented drum fills, which just makes it feel even more panicked and nerve-wracking. Sadly, aforementioned riffs are just about the only "fun" thing about the album as a whole - the rest of the album still seems pretty concerned with being as masturbatory as possible just because that's a thing which is technically possible. A lot of the album seems rhythmically technical and jerky in a way that doesn't contribute to the overall atmosphere at all, as if the band members just wanted to see if it could be done. Technically it can, but it sounds pretty stupid: Defeated Sanity basically sound like they kept tripping over shit while they were trying to record the album. I don't care if the members can play riffs in 54/16 - technical ability means next to jack-shit to me because I'm listening to an album for my own potential enjoyment, not critiquing acts at a talent show. If Defeated Sanity want to wank around with stuff that doesn't actually contribute anything to the music they play, they should do so outside of the recording studio, Christ.

In addition to that, none of the melodies really stick with you aside from the cool spasming riffs - I can basically only remember the blasting riffs and the slams as rhythms in my heads instead of melodies. That's arguably the point, but come on, even fucking Enmity have occasional melodies that stick in your head, plus those guys are better at being heavier and "complex" anyways, so Defeated Sanity are kind of rendered obsolete in this regard and need whatever edge they can get. The vocals don't really help anything, either - while this sort of thing would greatly benefit from a strong, clearly defined voice in the music, Defeated Sanity's vocalist mostly weakly croaks in a manner that can only barely separate itself from the sludginess of the guitars.

But I suppose most of these paragraphs are addressing complaints that just demonstrate my personal distaste for this style of brutal death metal and wouldn't actually indicate flaws to people who actually enjoy this sort of thing. Despite my whining, it still gets a relatively high score from me because it's pretty good for what it is, and if I was ever in the mood to listen to some sort of "intellectual" brutal death metal I would pick this over a boatload of other things, despite the fact that it's really not that great in the grand scheme of things. Nevertheless, I'm sure most of you guys reading this are nerds, so go out and buy it and marvel over Defeated Sanity's attempts to condescend you with riffs that miss the point of what they're supposed to be doing. Your bemusement is what they fantasize about when they're jerking off, I'm sure.