Our collective heart(s) sank a little when the first paragraph of Defiled’s press pack trumpeted their ‘technical’ add-ons to the traditional death metal vibe that screams forth from their cover art and song titles. Our rationale? If you weld shiny titanium wheels and a V8 engine onto a a rotting corpse – no matter how fast, outlandish and bewildering to behold it is – at the end of the day, it’s a still a rotting corpse. Yup – we really don’t care for the >220 BPM crowd with their daft triggered drum sounds, their masturbatory guitarists and their shite vanilla lyrics. Happily, the reality here is that this Japanese quintet’s third album proper is as crusty as all hell and contains few pretensions to reinventing any wheels – titanium or otherwise!
Without willing to insult anyone’s musical credentials here, this is pure homage to first generation death with musicianship that speaks of passionate enthusiasm for playing brutal, churning noise rather than advertising a BA from Berklee College of Music. But that’s not to say it doesn’t sound very nice. The overall sound – mixed and mastered by genre luminary Jim Morris at Morrisound Studio – is airy and gives plenty of separation between clanking bass and guitars that stink of Marshall JCMs with the mids cut rather than Mesa Boogie. The main pitch here is solidly early Death, Possessed, Cannibal Corpse and Nocturnus (minus the keys obvs) but the instrumentation at times offers subtle nods to the crossover crowd – DRI, Excel et al.
During the first few listens to Infinite Regress we were somewhat sceptical of their songwriting aptitude and was on the verge of unfavourably comparing them to current rivals to the DM heavyweight belt, Tomb Mold, who sidestepped genre limitations by wallowing in atmospheric diversions from the general brutality. But given time, Defiled, wrapped their rotting oriental tendrils round us and we fathomed out where their song writing strengths lie. Sure, this band love a high speed slidey power chord riff and to play to one’s strengths is only common sense. But rather than divert away from the honest, guitar bass, drums and throat blueprint, Defiled inject variety via some wilfully wonky Morbid Angel-isms (“Tragedy”), old school minimalist drumming (“So Blind”), some welcome high register spazz-outs (“Ignorant”) and punishing dischords (“Masses in Chaos”).
The Japanese have always had a talent for taking great things from outside their own culture and replicating them in a really skilful way – and Infinite Regress is no exception. If, like us, you yearn for those good old days when extreme metal didn’t attempt to be brutal simply for the sake of brutality and didn’t sound like someone chucking a stack of crockery down a staircase to the tuneless squeaking of a gerbil who’s been possessed by the antichrist then you should check this record right out. Just make sure you give it time to bed in! 7/10
Season of Mist
24th January 2020