I’ll admit it, I’m a biased motherfucker. When I think of Japan, I think of anime and J Pop and bands like over-the-top shit like X Japan and the crazy clown lookin’ girls, not brutal death metal bands like Defiled. I guess I should have learned this lesson already from bands like Gore Beyond Necropsy and Sigh and others who break against this stereotype in their own way, but no, my bias remains. Though I guess you can really say that Defiled is over-the-top, as they are an excellent, but also very brutal and pretty technical death metal band that is releasing their fourth full length. However, I can say that I was right surprised to get this record since I had no idea it was coming out and it has been 8 years since their Season of Mist debut Divination. But whether or not I had warning, Defiled has put out another ball breaking slab of death metal crushingness.
Of all genres, I’d say that technical/brutal death metal is the genre that has taken me the longest to get into. I never found bands like Cryptopsy or Gorguts to be particularly fulfilling when it came to getting out aggression. In fact, I’d say that a lot of this kind of music is supremely cerebralâ€”to the point of frustration sometimes. Defiled is definitely on that cerebral side of the spectrum, In Crisis maybe even more so than 2003’s Divination. One major thing that will stand out to fans of the band right away is that all the songs on this record are about twice as long as the band’s previous discs. And this definitely shows up in the writing. The tracks are not as direct, they’re more complex and highly compressed.
This complexity and compression leads to an album that takes your active participation and attention to really get into. So this really depends on what kind of fan you are. Do you want a record that hits you with its hooks and takes you on an immediate ride? Or do you want a record that is going to pummel you with its crazy riffs, time changes and brutality and that takes 7 listens before you really appreciate it? If you’re willing to wait around In Crisis is definitely a record worth checking out.
For me, I was struck by one change from their earlier material that I’d heard, and that with the rise in complexity the memorability of the riffs seems to have gone down a bit. Divination is chalk full of riffs that stick to you. They’re not necessarily melodic, but they’re outstanding. They stick to your brain like creepy little mutant worms and they dig into your gray matter, willing you to listen to them over and over and over. In Crisis, while outstanding in its complexity and brutality, hasn’t really done that for me. This is partially because the writing style being different (though, really, it’s Defiled and you will recognize it), but I have another theory.
It’s been 8 years since Defiled put out a record and production has changed in 8 years. Records released in 2003, particularly on smaller labels, didn’t have the kind of access to high-tech, state-of-the-art production technologies. In Crisis is too damn compressed, and by this I mean in a production sense. The bass doesn’t stand out like it did on earlier releases, and despite being very good I had to put it into my earphone monitors to really be able to appropriately get a feel for it. While the drums sound better (not unbalanced), the level of compression here makes the whole mix so dense that those bits and pieces that caught listeners on previous releases and stuck get hidden underneath the wall of compressed sound. And so the record loses something for it. In essence, it makes a composition style that is already a hard nut to crack for some, more difficult to get into.
All-in-all, though, if you’re a fan of technical, brutal death metal then you should definitely check out this record. It will reward your patience and you will enjoy it.Â The riffs are razor sharp, the rhythm section is pummeling and aggressive and the vocals are exactly what you expect them to be, no more, no less. However, if this is your first experience with Defiled I strongly encourage you to go back and check out their earlier material, as well. While this record is great, it might take some of their earlier stuff to convince you to give it a deeper listen.