Defeated Sanity
Disposal Of The Dead / Dharmata

Defeated Sanity return to us with an unorthodox dual e.p. release.  As they should.  With a discography of stellar releases they have an earned reputation for reaching beyond the death metal abyss and fans expect more from them than even the nearest band to their rank.  Last we heard from these dastardly villains was 2013’s Passages Into Deformity.  Passages was as sonically crushing as its musicianship was dexterous.  Defeated Sanity left things like balance to the In Flames of metal.  The hand dexterity of Christian Kuhn defied physics yet the guitars were produced with such heaviness that the riffs were all but buried yet the texture that came through made for a unique, and brain dancing listen.  That it really forced one to listen made it that much more engrossing.  Lille Gruber’s drumming leaped and teleported over and between the barrage with jazz breaks that displayed most obviously where this band could be headed.  Disposal Of The Dead / Dharmata makes good on that preview yet manages to throw fans for a loop with a surprising album(?) structure.

Where Passages gave us a hybrid creature combining slamming brutality and musical finesse, this dual e.p. splits that entity apart into two unique and distilled forces: one representing the summation of all earthly horror, the other spiritual depravity.  Disposal Of The Dead and Dharmata.  Each e.p. being so different from the other that an uninformed listener might figure them to be two different bands entirely.  Disposal Of The Dead is modern brutal death metal.  Dharmata is progressive reimagining of classic death metal.  From production to cover art nearly everything between these recordings is different.  Packaging them together seemed purely convenient but each side of the gorge is connected by a single dilapidated suspension bridge. A common theme rooted in Hindu spiritualism and culture made conspicuous in the titles and lyrics.

DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD

The e.p. Begins with intro “Remotio Mortuorum”.  A monastic, vaguely eastern chamber drone that fades into a churning death metal warm up.  Don’t be alarmed by the electronic snare drum tone with that harsh wave cut-off.  It immediately caught my ear but it’s a sound exclusive to the intro.  The rest of the e.p. features a more cutting medium-high snare, and another that is somewhat dry and open.  Often an issue, if not an outright miss with brutal death metal, here the snare sits perfectly in the mix and is always clear even when Lille hits hyper blast.

“Suttee” is an archaic Hindu custom for which a widow voluntarily immolates herself either on the funeral pyre of her deceased husband, or shortly after his death.  A difficult to fathom ritual, as brutal as it is morbidly endearing. The song bearing this words meaning begins already in full blaze.  Crackling, straining snare blasts and guitars like smoldering human fat barrage the onlooking neighbors and family.  In short time the music slumps in exhaustion from having endured the horrific scene, the riffs barely mustering to shuffle onward until 2:13 where Christian Kuhn taps out one of few, short melodic flares that dot Disposal Of The Dead.  It’s a fitting analogy for Defeated Sanity, that they aren’t a band motivated by brutality for the sake of being over the top, but there is thoughtfulness behind the writing, even if it’s not immediately apparent, such as with Disposal Of The Dead.  The songs couldn’t be this impactful without the band closely engineering the structure.

Fundamentals folks.  Fundamentals.  Disposal Of The Dead is Defeated Sanity uncomplicating their sound and pushing all of the equalizer faders up to +100 bowel dropping, comically fictitious measurement of power output, like Marty Mcfly in the intro to Back To The Future.  It harks back to Chapters Of Repugnance but with a level of refinement rarely encountered in the genre of brutal death metal.  It’s as if the band went through a six-sigma black belt training program to produce music with the greatest impact from only their statistically strongest assets as a band.  Which all sounds sterile, and like what your upper middle class uncle talks about at family gatherings, until you play it and your vision blurs from the rumbling crematory blast furnace of “Into The Soil”.

The guitar’s are down-tuned to subterranean depths of heavy and the bass isn’t far below creating a combined effect not unlike the continuous wave of a jet engines sonic boom.  At other points the bass separates, buzzing above the guitars like a amphetamine jacked bumble bee.  Lille Gruber dives into your chest with concussive groupings of 8 snare blasts each and the skies split open until the song settles into a chugging groove.  It’s not complicated, just good song writing.  Disposal Of The Dead has been an energetic lesson in the laws of brutal death metal, but flare and the ascendant musical realm is near listeners.  Just on the other side of this septic, disease rich valley.  The indigenous people call it Dharmata.

DHARMATA

“Dharmata” is a sanskrit word with grasp-at-air meanings like “suchness”, “the way it is”, or “the absolute from which all proceeds”.  That last one offers just enough to draw from.  First in the sequence, Disposal Of The Dead gives you everything you could have expected and, in a way, buffers fans before the neck tweaking reaction from Dharmata’s progressive death metal reality check.  Disposal Of The Dead addresses the ugly side of Hindu religious culture, Dharmata the wonderment and mystery of divine enlightenment.  Lyrics for “The Mesmerizing Light” describe and ascendant experience for the believer. Meeting Hindu deities and the overwhelming effects of being in their presence.  The subject describes an encounter of both grand spiritual ascension and a level of fear.  Dharmata balances these two emotions throughout the five songs.  Aggressive passages blend with melodic, vaguely progressive, illuminations.  Each side entangled with the other, vying for dominance, but neither fully subduing the other.

Shortly into having introduced Dharmata to a friend he summarized with, “ You know, this is Cynic worship.  Focus without the robot vocals”.  Also without the female vocals.  I added that you could also reference Atheist.  He concurred.  You also can’t help but hear mid-period Death as the vocals are so dead on for Chuck Schuldiner’s style.   Even the bass tone has that same clean, mid-range buzz you can find on Individual Thought PatternDharmata falls into a sphere of the aforementioned bands but benefiting from condensed structuring, there is simply more going on per minute of song than any albums by the mentioned, and a modern production that allows every detail to be emphasized, like a temple built only of mirrors.

Dharmata dials up the progressive elements by increasing the infusion of technical jazz fusion, not without those light eastern touches of melody.  “Return To Samsara”  begins with a minute worth of feathery guitar and moseyed bass lines, smoothly building intensity until the vocals kick in at 1:20. The song downshifts into longer jazzy passages 2 more times over it’s eight and a half minute length.  Lille Gruber’s drumming is nimble as if his parts were recorded in a NASA aircraft high into ionosphere where the effects of gravity is less.  His flurry of strikes like the patterns of swarming firefly’s.  Credit is very much due to new vocalist Josh Welshman for nailing both styles between the e.p.’s.  Dharmata particularly, offers a  spotlight demonstration of guitarist Christian Kuhn’s masterful playing.  It’s not a  complete secret but it might’ve otherwise have taken the Passages Into Deformity bonus DVD to fully appreciate.

Having revisited the records for which I made comparison’s, Dharmata is a busy bee indeed.  It truly flutters and maneuvers with an energy not bound by the physical.  It’s the spirit of that burned wife in “Suttee”, transformed to light, traveling straight and true through the multiverse to be judged by Yama – god of death.  Will she move on from or return to samsara for another go through of the reincarnation cycle?   If Defeated Sanity is subject to the cycle of reincarnation they’re giving a hell of a time about it, coming back as a more evolutionary sophisticated creature with each album.  The production and mixing is impeccable for both e.p.’s, simultaneously playing up to their respective styles and accentuating their differences.  It’s August and I can say with certainty that Disposal Of The Dead / Dharmata will top my year end list.  In a genre that chases extremity, Defeated Sanity reach a new edge without a gore factor by bisecting itself into two complementary parts.  They split their stock to increase investment from the metal consuming public, and power in their music.  Analysts predict continued growth of the band through exciting, and disruptive new strategies.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mars Budziszewski
August 22nd, 2016

Comments

  1. Commented by: Allred

    Nice review, though I believe Max Phelps actually does the vocals on the Dharmata songs… Personally, I was really bored with the Disposal of the Dead half, and I even felt the Dharmata material was wearing its influences a little too much; almost like it was just going through the motions…I’ll have to go back and listen some more after reading your review. \m/


  2. Commented by: Kevin E.

    I tried to get into this one, but the muddy production and that god-awful snare drum sound just made this one un-listenable for me. It’s like a hammer to my temple. I’ve always found these guys overrated as there’s much, much better brutal death out there than this one.


  3. Commented by: Slaveborn/Mars

    Interesting, as l’ve considered them one of the elite bands in brutal death metal. Muddy. Ok, I get it but It’s natural when the emphasis is on the low end. In my huge tower speakers Disposal Of The Dead rumbles in such a satisfying way for me. Im figuring they meant to go heavy and


  4. Commented by: Slaveborn/Mars

    … Took it as far as the could. (keypad mash)


  5. Commented by: Brad

    Can’t get enough of Disposal of the Dead. Absolute crushing, grooving, low end brutality done better than anyone in the genre right now. As for the snare, it sounds perfect in the mix, to me. If you don’t like it, I’m wondering how much brutal DMX you listen to because it’s right in line with what a lot of bands are do8ng, but better.


  6. Commented by: Brad

    Can’t get enough of the first half of this one. Absolutely crushing, grooving, low end brutality done better than anyone else in the genre. Top 10 of the year for sure.

    The snare sounds perfect to me and right in line with the genre (Excoriation, Embodied Torment, Iniquitous Deeds, etc)


  7. Commented by: justinbieberlover

    Heard the sample track. Terrible. Brutal Death Metal that sounds like this is a travesty. Drums sound awful, guitars sound all messy and fuzzy, vocals are as bad es expected. Overrated crap.


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