Most people can’t, for one reason or another, split their talents and passions into two separate wholes. The pizza place near my home in Ontario makes good wings, but they’re not great enough to start up a separate wing business and succeed, so they just do both at once. Some folks are terrible salespeople, so they invite you over to their place to eat some pizza and have a “party” while they try to pitch you an energy drink-based pyramid scheme; the free pizza is supposed to make up for the fact that they couldn’t sell icewater in the Sahara Desert, I guess. Germany’s Defeated Sanity are not most people. They happen to like ultra-brutal death metal and the old Florida proggy death scene, so instead of just combining the two they up and did a split with themselves, embracing passions on Disposal of the Dead and Dharmata, respectively.
Disposal of the Dead is Defeated Sanity as we know and enjoy them. Employing early Cryptopsy’s savage looseness and Suffocation’s take on technicality, the most savage riffing of both is combined into a thoroughly brutal whole. Disposal is a bit less technical and somehow even heavier than 2013’s high quality Passages into Deformity, and if you’re familiar with the band this is exactly how you’d want them to sound. Dharmata is a different beast altogether, seeing Defeated Sanity fully embrace their love of early Florida death metal. Death is the biggest influence, and to my ears it sounds like the heaviness of Leprosy and Spiritual Healing mixed with the technicality of Human and Individual Thought Patterns. Atheist in their prime is represented well, although Defeated Sanity mainly embraces their proggier elements. Cynic’s Focus is another influence, though less prevalent than the other two and mercifully lacking the stupid vocoder which only worked on their masterpiece Traced in Air. As guttural vocals would sound ridiculous on Dharmata, Max Phelps of Exist was brought in to lay down some nice Schuldiner-esque rasping.
Disposal of the Dead is the better side of this self-split. As Defeated Sanity only presents twenty minutes of their specialty material, there’s no fat whatsoever. Much like Passages, this initially sounds like a carpet bombing of brutal riffs, technical flourishes, and disgusting guttural puking, but on closer examination each track is richly detailed, expertly composed, and high in replay value. “Generosity of the Deceased” jarringly moves from quick blasting to half-time slamming by design with consistently good riffing, making for compelling death metal lunacy. Side A closer “The Bell” has a midsection reminiscent of The Bleeding if it were more brutal, a hooky steamroller of a chugging verse riff, and concludes on the same riff intro track “Remotio Mortuorum” revolves around. It foreshadows Dharmata by having a quintessential Florida prog-death guitar run occupy its final measure in its last repetitions before abandoning itself to an extended version and seamlessly launching into Side B.
Dharmata is an entertaining love letter to well-known members of the early Florida scene. Technical excesses are fully embraced, giving each member of Defeated Sanity’s instrumental core the opportunity to show off their chops, and make no mistake, they take full advantage of it. With that in mind, it may seem odd that the best song is also the longest, but “Return to Samsara” hits all the right notes. Making like Amaranthe and getting Cynical in soft intro, it quickly shifts to full-bore death metal technicality. What makes it work is that it never gets too airy outside of the odd soft guitar part used to give bassist Jacob Schmidt or guitarist Christian Kühn the spotlight to do almost gratuitously technical leads, keeping one foot in the muck and filth so things stay largely heavy. “At One with Wrath” employs a series of compelling Death riffs, which combined with Phelps’s rasping could’ve made for good Spiritual Healing material.
Disposal sounds grimy, with bottom-heavy guitars, hugely present bass, and Lille Gruber’s drumming getting the spotlight it deserves with his maniacal performance, which rivals Flo Mounier in his prime for energetic and barely contained madness. Dharmata cleans things up a bit; Gruber’s tin can snare is replaced with a tight and normal sounding one, and Kühn’s guitar is more balanced and clear.
Overall, this is an interesting, novel, and quality offering from Defeated Sanity. Dharmata has its flaws, as “The Mesmerizing Light” can sometimes come off a bit disjointed in spots and “The Quest for Non-Existence” has a ridiculous guitar/bass/cowbell bit a minute or so in that can be a bit off-putting, but the little missteps here and there are made up for by the wide-eyed enthusiasm the band shows in playing the Florida stuff, and the sheer amount of fun they’re having with this is palpable. Come for the brutality, stick around for the highly entertaining Death/Atheist/Cynic tribute act.