Deformatory – Inversion of the Unseen Horizon Review

Spurred into action by Dear Hollow’s aggressive maneuvering towards my station as the Sole Arbiter of Brutality, I’m forced to toil in the less productive shafts of the criticism mines. This week sees me stumbling through the murk of the promo sump like a common probationary writer, grasping towards anything familiar and grabbing hold of Deformatory. The Ottowans’ last record, Malediction, was less than remarkable, but the basic conceit – ‘90s and ’00s Cryptopsy combined without all the wacky stuff – is worth more than one try. Now pared down to a two-piece, guitarist/vocalist Charlie Leduc and drummer Neil Grandy have a chance to hone their sound and songwriting, and with Cryptopsy’s own Jon Levasseur slinking around in the liner notes, I thought they might have capitalized on it.

After that dry opening, you have probably concluded that Deformatory did not, in fact, capitalize on this opportunity. Inversion of the Unseen Horizon would be even less memorable than its predecessor were it not for three minutes of glorious Crypt-opening in “Impaled Upon the Carrionspire,” a song mostly notable for Levasseur’s guest performance. In the foreboding acoustic introduction, opening solo, and late-song lead, Levasseur is unmistakable and whips the song into a frenzy. Between these episodes are a couple of smart Cryptopsy riffs straight out of None So Vile and one I last heard on Bufihimat’s I. From the intro to the fading notes of Levasseur’s last lead at 3:05, Deformatory absolutely rip. For the last two minutes of the song, they do not.

Deformatory held their riffs in check to make a good impression on 2015’s Malediction, but throughout Inversion of the Unseen Horizon they lose their grip on ideas. In both, the duo rely on choppy, power-chord heavy riffs and frequently shifting kick patterns to keep their music at a constant boil. But the rhythmically restless Inversion doesn’t transform its taxis into any kind of progression. Songs shuffle back and forth like a maniac in a cell – there’s no real pattern to the band’s movement, and even interesting ideas are undermined by an inability to coordinate the different parts towards a single goal. Take, for instance, “Masticated by an Infinite Shadow,” which features an interesting stop-start bridge that could have lent the song some real gravity and impact. After a couple of dramatic pauses, the band just plow on with something entirely different and end the song on an odd transitional riff from a couple minutes prior.

It’s all more than a bit over-written. Leduc’s riffs are so busy as to trample themselves in the rush to vary on a theme, and Grandy’s drums punctuate grooves unevenly and often disregard the rhythms from the guitar. That desynchronization can have a big impact on, for instance, a Defeated Sanity record, but here it’s not contrasted by a heavy-hitting hook or grounding riff. Deformatory instead focus on their individual intricacies at the cost of the higher-order view, resulting in disorganized songs without much shape. Returning to “Impaled Upon the Carrionspire,” I can imagine the song ending with a simple descending figure mirroring the ascending lead, followed by a big power chord hit. Not a terribly creative ending, but it would at least give the song shape and drama. Instead, Deformatory introduce four more riffs in the last two minutes, none of which tie into the None So Vile melodic style of the first three minutes.

It’s late summer; big death metal records are on their way. I had hoped Deformatory could sneak Inversion of the Unseen Horizon among them, but I can’t recommend more than a few minutes of it. These songs manage to ramble even at high speed and over short runtimes, and  by far the coolest part of the record is Jon Levasseur doing a solo. At its best Inversion serves only to remind listeners of better songs and better records by the band’s influences. Deformatory haven’t found the focus and inspiration they need to write good songs, let alone a great record.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Independently Released
Websites: deformatory.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/deformatory
Releases Worldwide: September 3rd, 2021

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