The brutal tech death veterans outdo themselves yet again.
Words by Ryan McCarthy:
For those of you who somehow don’t already know, DEFEATED SANITY is a German brutal tech death band who are closing in on 30 years of activity. Favoring quality over quantity, The Sanguinary Impetus is only their sixth full length in that 30 year span, meaning the band averages one full length every 5 or so years. Moreover, their last full length, 2016’s Disposal of the Dead / Dharmata, was a divisive affair (in more ways than one) that offered brutal death metal on the first half of the record and more ‘90s-minded tech death a la ATHEIST on the second half. While the second half of the aforementioned record was not my cup of tea, there’s no questioning that DEFEATED SANITY has always been nothing short of masterful at whatever style they apply themselves to. And since we’re talking about musical mastery, let’s talk about The Sanguinary Impetus.
This record has one of the most unconventional beginnings I’ve heard in a very long time. But it doesn’t take long to understand why DEFEATED SANITY takes this approach. The entirety of this record seems to devote itself to unsettling, disorientating, and defying the expectations of the listener. Grooves persist just long enough for you to latch on to them before you’re thrown back into a maelstrom of technical efficiency and smothering brutality - two words that have always applied to DEFEATED SANITY but never quite like this. The guitar work on this record is something else. DEFEATED SANITY seems to disdain conventional time signatures and refuses to let something as trivial as “traditional song structures” get in the way of their brand of sonic madness. Indeed, there are very few times on this record when a riff is repeated. In true tech death fashion, most of these parts are played a few times, varied a few times, then summarily discarded and left to fly away in the locomotive whirlwind of speed and aggression.
Perhaps unexpectedly, the bass work adds a LOT to this record. At times it blends seamlessly with the riffs, adding some low end to an already low-end-heavy record. But at key moments it jumps out and makes its presence known in a tasteful but noticeable way. Pops, slaps, slides, and taps all claw their way to the forefront of the mix for brief flurries of aggression and nuance without ever seeming distracting or indulgent. Of course, as with any record that has Colin Marston’s name on it, the mixing and mastering is positively superb. Nothing is fighting for dominance in the mix, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that everything dominates the mix equally.
The vocals are, unsurprisingly to anyone familiar with DEFEATED SANITY’s catalogue, absolutely vicious. They gurgle inhumanly, but in a raw, “dry” way that indicates that there aren’t really many effects on the vocal track. You get the impression that if you were standing next to vocalist Josh Welshman while he was recording, the noises coming out of his mouth would sound more or less identical to the noises you hear on the record. It’s clear that we're dealing with a true brutal death metal prodigy. The lyrics deal with such appealing topics as gore, predation, death, parasitism, and a host of other feel good subjects. Written out that way, I’m realizing that this record is basically the sonic version of The Thing - amorphous, unrelenting yet constantly changing, and absolutely desperate for blood. “Sanguinary Impetus” indeed.
In my humble and admittedly rather entry level opinion, this is truly DEFEATED SANITY’s masterwork. Combining the brutality of Chapters of Repugnance (2010) with the forward thinking nature of Dharmata, they’ve created something perhaps not 100% unique, but 100% identifiable - which in a scene as densely populated as death metal amounts to just about the same thing. DEFEATED SANITY has crafted a sound that is wholly their own, and The Sanguinary Impetus is their statement of intent.
The Sanguinary Impetus is out July 24th via Willowtip Records. Get yours HERE.