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Live and let die... - 39%

robotiq, July 21st, 2021

Here is the earliest recording by Deformity, the obscure Belgian band who later released a blistering death metal album ("Murder Within Sin"). As the title of this demo suggests, "Live Beyond" is nothing more than a live tape released for the band’s limited local audience. There is something noble in this approach. The concept of releasing live tapes in lieu of proper studio demos is reminiscent of what the old school death metal bands did (like Death, for instance). Few bands were still doing this in 1996, but it is worth remembering that the Internet was a few years from reaching critical mass. Distributing live tapes was still probably the cheapest way to get your name onto the scene.

In the case of Deformity, that ‘scene’ refers to the infamous Flanders H8000 scene of the mid to late nineties. This was the vital, fresh sound of hardcore bands discovering thrash and death metal. Deformity would soon move towards death metal themselves, but this early tape sounds more like thrash-influenced metalcore. The band sound much more like a standard H8000 band here than they do on their subsequent "Misanthrope" EP. This is evident when you listen to the songs that didn't make it onto that EP (such as "No Love is Given" and "A Life Beyond"). These songs resemble other scene hardcore bands like Congress, Vitality or Regression (the latter is also name-checked during some of the stage banter). There is an obligatory cover of "Raining Blood" in the middle of the set, to show the band's metal influence, but it isn't a particularly good cover.

The sound quality is decent for a tape of this nature. These songs are recognisable entities rather than muddy noise. The band were young and inexperienced when they did this, so the playing isn’t as tight as it would be on later recordings. The potential is obvious, and the band soon improved after this. The highlights of the set are the songs that later appeared on the debut EP, in particular "177252: God Defined" and "Splitting". The latter closes the band’s set, and is the strongest song here. It shows the band moving into those fluid, ‘deathcore’ style riffs that Deformity would make their trademark. Both of these songs sound much better on "Misanthrope", so there isn’t any need to hear these live versions. The remaining songs feel less well developed in comparison to these two; early sketches for something greater.

This tape might interest Deformity fans. I consider myself a Deformity fan and I am glad that I have heard it. I doubt I will listen to it again though. The performance, the production, and the songs do not come close to capturing the band's intensity. The only people who need to hear this tape are die-hard H8000 scene enthusiasts, however many of those exist. I don’t consider myself to be one of them. I’ve listened to this tape so you don’t have to. Now go and check out "Murder Within Sin" instead, it is great.