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Demorphed – Denial Of Death

Denial Of Death
by Santiago Puyol at 26 September 2022, 6:18 AM

Formed in 2011 in Pforzheim, Germany, DEMORPHED (meaning “deformed” or “disfigured”) have been delving into Brutal Death Metal for over a decade, progressively incorporating a Groove influence into their sound. “Denial Of Death”, their sophomore effort and follow-up to 2019’s “Creation Of A War Machine”, delivers crushing Death Metal with slight Tech and Prog influences.

The album is clearly divided into two distinct halves, unevenly broken by a soft yet unsettling “Interlude” sitting on the sixth slot of the tracklist. The first half comprises more traditional Death Metal tracks, sometimes rooted into Thrash inspirations, while the second one feels more explorative and progressive in comparison. In this reviewer’s opinion, the second half feels more interesting, being more dynamic and allowing several ideas to come to fruition through longer songs and diverse songwriting.

If anything, DEMORPHED never lets down when it comes to bringing in the Brutal and the Groove. Opener “The Vision” is a perfect example, coming with full force from the very beginning and its delightful, groovy riffing. Together with “The Overseer” and the title track, the bring a paranormal feel to the music through clever use of dissonance, syncopation and other little tricks that make the music feels off and discomforting.

The title track in particular slows down the pace a bit, feeling weighty thanks to Tina G.’s bass getting a moment in the spotlight. It is the grooviest song on the first half of the record and it shines a light on the band’s strengths. Meanwhile, Markus H. gets his time to show off the chops of the other rhythm section member, on “Road to Ruin”, playing in a more groove-oriented way on the verses and going full brutal on the chorus, showing impressive range.

The second half of the album begins with the dark and brooding —even when it goes fast— “Erebus And Terror”, certainly evoking an underworldly sense of dread. It is probably the most straightforward track on this section, and even then it goes beyond the confines of the Thrash-tingled Brutal Death of the first half, especially compared to songs like “Fuel The Fire”.

Snake Venom Booze” makes it seem as if it will be just another Thrashy, brutal banger, yet it grows into a completely different beast. Being the longest song on the album it fully develops through several sections and moods. Another highlight for Markus H. displaying some truly playful drumming here, especially the hi-hat, cymbal and ride work, that are a more creatively used compared to the rest of the album, embellishing certain sections on the higher end of the spectrum. There is also a bit of a Psychedelic vibe on the bridge of the track, making great use of pedal effects on the guitars. A memorable “blegh” caps this track off. Both “Weaver Of A Spell” and powerhouse closer “Alkahest” follow this proggier style, with complex instrumentals, multiple sections and even use of different effects and sounds to provide unusual and unique tones.

The musicianship on the record is probably its biggest strength. Every player on DEMORPHED is clearly skilled, and everyone gets a moment to shine on the record, be it through soloing, playing some really sick riffs or laying down complex grooves. They also really know how to play around with a 4/4 time signature and make it sound overtly weird, in the best possible sense. The songwriting feels a bit uneven since the second half of the record feels stronger if anything because it is more interesting.

Although it has a fitting and mostly adequate production, it does feel a bit thin; you need to crank up the volume so the music does not lack oomph and depth. Another issue I had with this album, is that the vocals get a bit boring after a while. They only seem to present two modes, demonic mid-range, or deep Thrash-like conversational growls. There is no need for DEMORPHED to resort to cleans to make this aspect a bit more interesting, but adding other kinds of harshes to help (screaming, shrieking, even higher-pitched growling), or maybe working on a stronger vocal layering where the multiple layers did different things.

Overall, “Denial Of Death” is a really good, strong record, with an even stronger second half that surely deserves more than the overall score if I were just rating it from the “Interlude” onwards. DEMORPHED has put out a solid second full-length, and shows promise of even better things coming in their future.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. The Vision
2. Fuel The Fire
3. Road To Ruin
4. The Overseer
5. Denial Of Death
6. Interlude
7. Erebus And Terror
8. Snake Venom Booze
9. Weaver Of A Spell
10. Alkahest
Frank S. – Vocals
Tobias R. – Guitar
Axel B. – Guitar
Tina G. – Bass
Markus H. – Drums
Record Label: Darkstorm Records


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Edited 09 December 2022

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