It should go without saying that Deformatory are a brutal death metal band, not because you should already be familiar with them – Malediction is only their second release – but because of their moniker. Good band names aside, these up-and coming Ottowans have a lot going for them, and Malediction proves their worth in a pretty scattershot genre. While this year’s release schedule for brutal death looks promising, including Wormed and Omnihility, at some point, fans of the genre shouldn’t pass up this album’s wealth of engaging brutality.
Nothing about Malediction contradicts your expectations; it starts with a sample, it ends with a sample, it’s got a few samples in between to break up the guttural growls and general extremity, but the LP is entirely devoid of curveballs. What it does have are solid songs built around memorable riffs, and in this genre that’s a godsend. Groovy and melodic riffs pack “Dimensions of Malevolence” full to bursting, negating the jarring one would expect from frequent and abrupt transitions in its second half. “Obsequium” throws even more good and great riffage out there and features a hellish and wailing solo near the halfway point. Though there are plenty of riffs here that could be swapped out with those from Hour of Penance or Omnihility, the band rarely falls into another group’s shadow, and while novelty remains elusive for them, the album remains engaging.
Malediction‘s lack of surprises is both its greatest strength and the most compelling argument against it, musically. The band does everything expected of them and gives just enough extra thought to make the end result enjoyable, but they really do play it safe throughout the album. The most interesting moments are tucked away near the end, like the solo on “Oracles of Perdition” that lead into the dissonant introduction of the pick-scrape loving “Apothic Existence.” While I can really get behind these songs in the moment, none of the writing or performances really wow me, which goes to show just how essential a high level of technical skill is to this type of music. Malediction‘s riffs aren’t any slower than those from Origin, and from a performance standpoint this album is certainly up to par.
Things sound slightly less grating than I expected and despite long songs and a pretty smashed production job, it’s easy enough to listen to once or twice through, since the band cleverly kept the length down to 37 minutes. My biggest issue is with the drum production. While not Fleshgod-ified, the bass drum sounds awful at high speed when the true depths of triggering become most apparent. Again, this is sadly a very middle-of-the-road production choice, and I can’t fault the band much for doing exactly what’s expected of them; such a complaint throws the entire existence of Malediction into limbo.
I doubt anyone will be truly floored by Malediction, but the album’s riffing propels it out of mediocrity and makes it worth a listen for a noted follower of brutal tech death such as olde Kronos. If you’ve already begun salivating over the promise of Krigsu come March, you can take the time to expel those disgusting excretions with a quick bang of the head over Deformatory‘s commendable effort here.