Defeated Sanity – The Sanguinary Impetus Review

After what was arguably their career high point in the astonishingly brutal Disposal of the Dead side of their split with themselves, Defeated Sanity have returned to making a “normal” Defeated Sanity record on The Sanguinary Impetus. Normal is a relative term; Defeated Sanity sounds like nothing else. The touchstones are familiar to most: Suffocation and Cryptopsy loom large as influences, although Defeated Sanity opt for early Cryptopsy’s looser, freer version of death metal that, unlike the tight technicality of Suffocation, sounds like it could derail itself by its own sheer force at any given moment. The difference manifests itself noticeably in the drums; listen to Effigy of the Forgotten again and recall how tight and controlled Mike Smith’s playing is, how he’s never in danger of losing control of the rhythm. Then spin None So Vile and witness Flo Mounier’s snare hits at the tail end of the fastest blasting segments getting a bit softer as he plays just beyond his own tremendous ability, and how instead of Smith’s saliently disciplined character sound like the lineman who’s perpetually in danger of getting an offside penalty by rushing across the line into the maelstrom a fraction of a second too early, but always avoids it – but only by a hair.

Defeated Sanity’s Lille Gruber is firmly in the Flo Mounier school of drumming, or, more accurately, graduated it magna cum laude. While New York death metal drumming tends to help the music represent an intricate monolith like an architecturally complex skyscraper, Gruber’s and Mounier’s styles have a wild charm about them that makes their bands’ music sound more akin to the spontaneous order of a natural ecosystem than a man-made monolith. Vocally, like Cryptopsy before them, Defeated Sanity’s Josh Welshman employ a more feral and brutal vocal style than his comparatively more understandable, well-enunciated New York death metal counterparts (Frank Mullen, Ross Dolan). While Welshman isn’t going to be mistaken for Lord Worm anytime soon, he’s got a naturally powerful growl and a knack for phrasing. As in classic Cryptopsy, bass takes a prominent role and does plenty more than strum root notes – Jacob Schmidt’s delightfully demented counterpoint to the “verse” riff in “Phytodigestion” makes for an early memorable moment.

It’s not merely instrumental chops that make Defeated Sanity special – technically skilled bands are a dime a dozen in this genre. Defeated Sanity understands the importance of restraint: they execute Suffocation-style riffs where the instrumental core restrains itself to play in lockstep to serve the singular purpose of bludgeoning the listener. The overtly technical and the kinetic are in constant flux in Defeated Sanity and maintain a unique interplay. “Imposed Corporeal Inhabitation” concludes with a massive slamming riff as an anchor point, but Schmidt spends a repetition doing a Langlois-style popping bassline, two guitar squeals converge into a harmony, and Gruber’s drums knock out a few measures in what sounds like triplets. During the bass-focused repetition, Welshman’s vocals abruptly change phrasing to end just before each pop at the end of a measure, returning thereafter to the longer, sustained growls. This is a stunning amount of detail, and while it’s meticulously composed it nonetheless sounds like a series of natural outgrowths of an idea as if the songs are, as said above, their own little living ecosystems.

Akin to an apex predator slaughtering and devouring its meal, Defeated Sanity can also bring the purest distillations of brutality to the fore. “Propelled into Sacrilege” has the best slam of 2020 by a country mile at about the 1:45 mark. Final tracks “Drivelling Putrefaction” and “Dislimbing the Ostracized” show that the wellspring of Disposal of the Dead is far from dry. These tracks retain the high-level technicality, but the increased length allows the simpler, more brutal moments to develop more, notably the massive slam that closes the record on “Dislimbing the Ostracized,” which emerges from an interesting drum and bass buildup and goes on for nearly two wonderful minutes. Gruber’s drums get creative in the pocket but never lose the plot; brutal death metal it remains.

While writing this review, I was fortuitously on a Cryptopsy kick. None So Vile still sounds so alive, so visceral, so real – The Sanguinary Impetus shares these qualities. It’s a thrilling and engaging listen, one which is benefitted greatly by headphones at least once to pick up on the myriad details in each song. Colin Marston’s mix captured these expertly, and Defeated Sanity have captured the throne of brutal death metal in 2020 – the one utterly predictable aspect of this record.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Willowtip Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: July 24th, 2020

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