posted on 2/2011 By:
Never having had my finger on the pulse of Far Eastern metal, it is not too surprising that Japanese death metal act Defiled has not come up on my radar before. But while I have been wallowing in ignorance, Defiled has managed to record three full-length albums in a career spanning nearly two decades. In defense of my ignorance, however, the band is coming off an eight-year recording hiatus with album number four, In Crisis. In keeping with Defiled’s veteran status, In Crisis is a gritty old-school-sounding affair, but Defiled does not fish the depleted waters of Entombed or Incantation worship: In Crisis is brutal death metal.
In contrast to most modern brutal death metal, with its shiny, Pro-Tooled production and triggered drums, In Crisis is a very organic sounding affair. The drums sound entirely natural; the guitars have a dark, almost murky tone; and the prominent slap and pop bass playing, while somewhat incongruous, adds a unique element to the band’s sound. This approach is a double-edged sword in that the lack of polish makes the music sound very heavy and “alive,” but this comes at the expense of clarity. The toms and bass drum, for instance, are felt more than heard, competing as they do for much of the same frequency spectrum as the guitars. Personally, I am willing to sacrifice a little clarity for vitality, but fans more accustomed to modern production may find In Crisis’s sound off-putting.
Defiled might be a little rougher around the edges than its younger competition, but make no mistake: This old wolf still has teeth. In Crisis is a vicious album by any standard, and what Defiled might lack in flash or refinement, they make up for in songcraft. That is not to say that Defiled is The Beatles of brutal death metal, but by the standards of the genre, Defiled is a cut above when it comes to writing memorable songs. Like most brutal death metal, the lion’s share of Defiled’s music is a flurry of sixteenth notes, but the band is secure enough in its masculinity to throw in the occasional half or even whole note. This unprecedented show of sensitivity results in some surprisingly brutish grooves, a prime example of which is the crushing intro to “Unconscious Slavery”, wherein a jack-hammering beat reminiscent of Fear Factory provides the foundation for a burly riff that sinisterly slithers around on the low end of the neck. Defiled’s tendency to vary its rhythm patterns helps to distinguish each musical passage from the last, and the fact that the band repeats a riff once in a while further enhances each track’s memorability.
Of course, In Crisis is a brutal death metal album and Defiled does not shy away from dishing out unrelenting punishment. Tracks such as “Behind You Pray”, “Paradoxical Chaos” and “Intolerant” are relentless blast-fests featuring riffs that sound like they emanate from a pneumatic drill rather than a guitar. Such brutality is more easily digested in smaller bites, but Defiled has the unfortunate tendency to stretch its songs out past the four-minute mark. This is not a major problem, but at forty-five minutes, In Crisis does feel just a tad bloated for music of this type.
In Crisis is unlikely to make big waves in a crowded death metal market, but Defiled’s un-processed, old-school approach to brutal death metal is refreshing. If you like punishing death metal, and you like it a little dirty, In Crisis is worth checking out.
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