Eternal Defomity - No Way OutBy the time you read this, Halloween 2016 is long gone. Oral surgeons have deposited their paychecks earned at the expense of children unfortunate enough to chomp down on razor blades, and your cranky olde neighbor is probably marching across the street right now to ask when the hell you’re getting that damned rotting jack o’ lantern off your porch. As I’m writing, however, the night of Halloween is still young, and I have an appropriately eerie soundtrack to accompany the festivities. Polish sextet Eternal Deformity has been spinning their wheels in the Polish underground across 23 years and 6 full-lengths, gaining plenty of experience with little notoriety to show for it. With their 2015 record No Way Out receiving an official release this year courtesy of Temple of Torturous, they may finally obtain some well-deserved recognition.

After dabbling in Amorphis worship for years, ED circa 2016 (an unfortunate acronym for an aging band) offers an instantly appealing fusion of black and gothic metal sounds. Don’t expect Cradle of Filth, though; rather, cross the nightmarish synths and symphonic black traits of Bishop of Hexen with the chunky riffs and horror atmosphere of The Vision Bleak, and you’ll have a rough idea of what to expect. No Way Out doesn’t feel in the least bit derivative of either band, as this is a group that has honed its sound across two decades with minimal roster shake-ups. The result is a supremely confident and unique sound, bristling with aggression and dripping with gothic flavorings. ED explores the limits of this sound with Borknagar-esque interjections of clean vocals and a pair of proggy, ten-minute epics to add a few extra shades of complexity. The final product, while not overly impressive on a technical level, feels like a fully realized vision and a totally complete (yet concise) package.

No Way Out is undoubtedly a well-crafted record, yet I hesitate to call it great because someone made the decision to crush the hell out of this thing in production. Yes, Eternal Deformity‘s sound is immediate and heavy on big, crunchy riffs, but there are also some interesting melodic layers at work in the keyboard and lead guitar departments. The rhythm section’s tones are so thunderous that these melodies, while totally audible, lose much of the impact they would have carried with a more thoughtful master (though the audible bass is a plus). A handful of weak songwriting decisions slightly tarnishes the overall experience as well, including some repetitious riffing on the album’s back-end and a baffling, wah-heavy solo that breaks the mood of “Reinvented,” an otherwise captivating track.

Eternal Deformity 2016

Despite its drawbacks, Eternal Deformity really sold me on No Way Out with the way they pepper their compositions with unexpected and intriguing wrinkles. While the band’s formula is effective, its relatively simple nature makes it a platform ripe for experimentation, and ED doesn’t fail to capitalize. There are loads of memorable moments that I look forward to with each listen, from the sci-fi B-movie synths of “Glacier” to the spacey, harmonized backing vocals of “Reinvented” (think modern Devin Townsend). The latter track does a fantastic job of establishing ED as a band proficient in forward-thinking songwriting; it develops its riffs throughout, the instruments waxing and waning in intensity before the song cycles back to its opening hook following the climax. Truthfully, every track here could be used as an example of proper progressive songwriting, but “Mothman” deserves recognition as the interlude of the year for its implementation of dulcimer, a beautiful and highly under-appreciated instrument.

The mastering here is really a shame, as it not only fatigues the ears but also lessens the effect of Eternal Deformity‘s melodic tendencies. Still, a recommendation of No Way Out is a no-brainer to any follower of gothic or symphonic black metal, regardless of the production. This is an engaging record from the first listen, and if you’re willing to give a bit more, you’ll find that its complex song structures and novel interjections grant it legs to grow. It sounds far fresher than you’d expect from a band with nearly a quarter-century of existence behind them, and I hope to see these guys clawing their way out from the underground in the years to come.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Temple of Torturous
Websites: facebook.com/eternaldeformity | eternal-deformity.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: November 18th, 2016

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  • Reese Burns

    This sounds pretty interesting, gonna have to clear some time to give it a proper listen.

    • Yes it’s really great…

  • MrAidscancer

    Staying with music from my country now I am waiting for new Obscure Sphinx review. But I am worried it’s rather too late, huh?

    • Oberon

      I didnt know Obscure Sphinx had another record coming out. Do you have an eta?

      • contenderizer

        They had a new album, Epitaphs, out back in September. It’s pretty damn good. Assume that’s what Mr. Aids was talking about.

        • MrAidscancer

          Yup, I was talking about Epitaphs. I was pretty sure AMG will review it. And now I have got some doubts, cause this album was released in September and still no words about them.

  • Ein Sophistry

    Saw “Polish Metal,” clicked instantly. Not disappointed.

  • The embedded track is nice and I completely agree about the mastering. It may actually stop me purchasing it. The sound really falls apart in some of the more intense sections. I don’t think heavy compression always sound terrible. Enslaved’s In Times is low dr, but it’s also clear and punchy, even though AMG criticised the mastering heavily from what I remember. This though, sounds like it’s in the verge of crumbling.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      Agreed that loud mastering isn’t always a hard negative. I’ve been listening to Khemmis’s Hunted all weekend and it’s striking how pleasant it sounds despite its DR5. I still recommend giving this album a chance, though – the embedded video is one of the album’s busier cuts and is probably its worst produced track.

      • GardensTale

        King Goat – Conduit is another album with just DR6 that sounds better than the score advertises, IMO. Seems it’s a Doom thing this year.

      • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

        I think lower DR scores can work better for doomy stuff, as opposed to faster, blast-driven styles. There’s more space between sounds, if that makes sense, so they don’t just turn into mush soup when all squished together.

  • TminusEight

    Enjoying the embedded track. Those cleans remind me of Alice in Chains. Good stuff. Calming my nerves after the shaking down here :)

  • Feytalist

    Listened to “Reinvented” off their Bandcamp page. It’s a great song. I was faintly dreading what the vocals would sound like after that amazing intro, but I realised it didn’t actually even matter, with those driving guitars. And I wasn’t disappointed, actually. The guy sounds like an even beefier Johan Hegg, which is never a bad thing. Definitely checking this out further.

    Wonder how their back catalogue holds up?

    • I never heard their first three albums (released in 1997, 1999 & 2002).
      Frozen Circus (2007) is fairly gothic/symphonic in a theatrical way, coated with a production well under par.
      The Beauty of Chaos (2012) is more symphonically soaring, with a slight proggy touch of say Limbonic Art and some moderate poppyness. It’s quite good, and the sound improved from the predecessor.
      From what I’ve heard of No Way Out thus far, this might just be their magnum opus.

      • Feytalist

        Good to know, thanks!

        Both of those sounds like worth a listen, at least. I’ll have a go at it from latest on back. But even if not, No Way Back will probably be worth it anyway.

    • Martin Knap

      The whole discography is uploaded on Youtube.

  • Dethjesta

    On the whole, I’m not a big fan of straight BM.
    *offers to turn in Metal-cred badge*
    But I do find that when Black Metal is mixed with other influences that it can produce some of my favourite music (Nechochwen, Thrawsunblat, Skaphe are just some recent examples).

    This appears (from the review and what I’ve heard so far) to be a great example of exactly the kind of genratic fusion I mean. I think I’m going to really like this.

    • Diego Molero

      I’m totally with you. It’s rare that I like straight up black metal, but when it’s mixed with some melodic, folk or symphonic stuff I really love it.

    • Reese Burns

      Folk black metal is one of the most consistently powerful forms of music, in my opinion.

      • Diego Molero

        It’s clear that you really love and know your folky black metal, so if you had to pick just one band as your favorite, which one would it be?

        • Reese Burns

          I’d have to say Drudkh, but since they’re one of the biggest, most obvious bands for that style, that’s probably not a very helpful answer. Some other folky bands I’m into are Drapsnatt, Fen, Wonders of Nature, Falls of Rauros, Hermodr, Earth and Pillars, Klamm, Eldamar, Windir, Thrawsunblat, Summoning and Chiral. Another really good band, even though they’re more of a melodeath group is Brymir. Hopefully there’s something in there you’ll enjoy!

          • Diego Molero

            I like Drudkh, Fen, Falls of Rauros, Thrawsunblat and also like _a lot_ the album 1184 by Windir but haven’t checked any other album by them (but I will). The other bands I haven’t heard them, but I will be checking them out when I get the chance. Thanks man.

          • Reese Burns

            Ayy no sweat, happy to help out

          • Reese Burns

            It’s a late response, but I’d also add Frigoris to the list as well, their music is folky and dark as hell

  • Pimpolho

    Is åkerfeldt singing in this or something?

  • Mr T

    That is a shit name. Clicked the review like three times because I couldn’t remember if I read it before. What does it even mean.

    Kinda liked the embedded track the longer it went tho.

  • sir_c

    I think I have Frozen Circus lying around somewhere. Nice to hear they have a new album, the embedded track sound promising