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Damnation Defaced - The Devourer Award winner

Damnation Defacted
The Devourer
by Max Elias at 02 October 2019, 4:41 AM

DAMNATION DEFACED is on their fifth full-length release, and this one takes the Melodic Death Metal of previous releases and throws it into a cement mixer. The result is a whirling maelstrom of fast drumming, tremolo picked riffs, and guttural vocal assaults. The first true song (“Intro- Re-Entering the Void is just that, an intro) showcases the breakneck approach magnificently. That is not to say there is no room left for subtlety; “Between Innocence and Omnivores” has dynamic shifts throughout that make the music feel alive. “Hunter and the Vermin” might be a better example of high-octane Melodeath—it opens on a fast pedal tone riff and flows effortlessly through various permutations of that. The melodic side of the band shows through, as the song even features strings during the choruses. The solo on this track is beautiful as well, even as it is technically astounding. Overall, even though it started with more fury, this reminds me of ARCH ENEMY.

“Race for the Grail” is a great case for the vitality of modern Melodic Death Metal. The riffs are strident, of course, but it’s the simple yet addictive guitar melody that appears and reappears like a cresting wave that make me come back and pay attention. It’s only a few notes, but it’s powerful, especially when the band harmonizes it and the layering thickens the sound. People have compared earlier releases from this band to old IN FLAMES, and I’m not sure about that—I just discovered these guys writing this review. But I do know that if I had to pick a track that sounded IN FLAMES-like, it would probably be “Stargazer”. The triplet riffing, the main riff in the verses, and the two-guitar interplay are hallmarks of that era. There are modern touches, such as the largely drum-dominant intro and the breakdown-sounding part around two and a half minutes in. The vocals are less deep than before, which also helps them to sound more like IN FLAMES.

The modern influence returns with “System of Iniquity”, which comes onto the field bearing melodic yet staccato riffs and slightly dissonant dyad patterns. The song is intense and a lot to follow, but structured in a musically cogent fashion—the guitar melody that finishes the song comes in unaccompanied in a suspenseful fade-out, for example. “Tiefenrausch” is a similar nod to the exuberance of modern Technical-Melodic Death Metal, with active bass, buoyant pedal-tone riffs, and a sweet melodic break that morphs into a twisty, sliding assault.

After the pummeling of, well, most of this excitingly dynamic beast, a bit of respite is needed, and we get in the form of “Through Asteroids and Cosmic Dust”, a soothing atmospheric break from the madness. That leads into “Unbound the Prophecy”, which is a smorgasbord of techy riffs and overlaid harmonies. The orchestral element returns on parts of the song as well. This is less-traditional Melodic Death Metal in the sense that some of the riffs are ‘outside’ tonally as opposed to consonant, but there is always resolution, and the ramped-up orchestral ending is nothing short of epic. The album ends as strongly as it began (and remains throughout); riffs abound in both “Vultures (Escape from Nadrog)” and “The Dark Companion”. The latter song has a cool breakdown of drum fills answered by swept arpeggios. “The Dark Companion” is both the last and longest song on the album, and starts with dissonant octave chugging before the vocals enter and it becomes another triplet-laden smasher. A small lead fill shifts the song from mid-paced swagger into a brief atmospheric break. The song is good, but nowhere near the riff-laden incredulity of other songs (like “Unbound the Prophecy”).

I can only recommend this album; it’s fantastic and balances melody with sledgehammering Death Metal very well. The riffs are sometimes reminiscent of the style and sometimes not, but always creative. Anyone who considers themselves a fan of Melodic or Technical Death Metal should listen to, and maybe even buy the album.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

1. Intro- Re-Entering the Void
2. Between Innocence and Omnivores
3. Hunter and the Vermin
4. Race for the Grail
5. Stargazer
6. System of Iniquity
7. Palace of Dead Souls
8. Tiefenrausch
9. Through Asteroids and Cosmic Dust
10. Unbound the Prophecy
11. Vultures (Escape from Nadrog)
12. The Dark Companion
Phillipp Bischoff—Vocals
Lutz Gudehus—Guitars
Lutz Neemann—Guitars
Lucas Katzman—Drums
Kim-Patrick Freidrichs—Bass
Record Label: Apostasy Records


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Edited 12 August 2020

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