Eternal Deformity
The Beauty of Chaos

It’s been awhile since I’ve had anyone satisfy my yen for Dimmu Borgir-style symphonic black metal. For awhile, and mostly in the late ’90s, it seemed to be everywhere: Old Man’s Child of course, but also Mactatus, Mystic Circle, Stormlord, Morgul, Anorexia Nervosa, Thyrane, Carach Angren, Ninnuam, and so on. And although most of those bands released at least one strong album (with Stormlord’s last one, Mare Nostrum, being one of the best I’ve heard in years), I mostly stopped digging into this sub-genre after awhile. I was always searching for a unique take on the style, a memorable melodic approach or novel form of orchestration, but I kept exhuming the same barrow-wight Liberace corpse, over and over.

So I’ve cracked open the coffin once more, and this time, found Poland’s Eternal Deformity. They offer a similar mix of styles as Dimmu; not quite black metal, not quite thrash or groove metal, but an even blend of all of it, with ringing, melodic guitar solos and goth-classical symphonics. Check out the opening tracks, “Thy Kingdom Gone” and “Lifeless” for good solid examples of this. Yet there’s another major element at play here, which marks Eternal Deformity’s sound as their own – a doomy, introspective and progressive tone and songwriting approach that reminds me of countrymates Riverside. It’s an intriguing mix of the pompous and the pensive, and is best represented in tracks like “Pestilence Claims No Higher Purpose” and “Caught Out Lying.”

Eternal Deformity also offers a nice contrast in their dual vocals. Przemyslaw Kajnat’s black vocals are thick and throaty, bordering on death growls at times, but his clean vocals are even more impressive. When he sings out, they’re powerful and clear like Vortex (though not on the same level), but in the album’s more melancholy moments, he affects a velvety croon. Riverside vocalist Mariusz Duda comes to mind, but I hear Vincent Cavanagh of Anathema even more (particularly from the later goth/prog albums like Judgement and A Fine Day to Exit). It’s expressive without ever becoming overwrought or tear-stained.

As I said earlier, the symphonics are just lavish enough to provide a fanciful counterpoint to the downtuned guitars, but they’re rarely overpowering. Except for track 6, “The Beauty of the Ultimate End,” which starts with a cheeseball Bal Sagoth march and then employs heaving, demon-calliope whirlwinds of synths throughout. Tips the whole thing from pomp into poofery. Shame, ‘cause the rest of the track is one of the album’s speediest and most aggressive moments. Eternal Deformity make up for that lapse in taste with follow-up “The Sun” and the epic, Oriental-inflected closer “The Holy Decay,” both of which return to the balanced mix of goth/black and progressive. It’s more of their sweet spot, and it’s rich and compelling enough that they don’t need to resort to haunted carnival antics.

If you find the thought of Dimmu Borgir‘s Spiritual Black Dimensions mixed with Riverside‘s Rapid Eye Movement intriguing, then definitely check these guys out. My tolerance for overwrought symphonic black metal has paled over the years, but these guys harness that sound in a (mostly) balanced way, and the terrific vocals really tie everything together. A great surprise out of Poland, and a smart addition to Code 666’s diverse and innovative black metal roster.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
April 23rd, 2012

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