Brutal death metal is, in essence, the most extreme form of the parent genre, taking all of the intensity and most fearsome elements of its foundation to the absolute limit. Bands like Cryptopsy, Suffocation, and Nile ignited the initial spark that would evolve into a monstrous blaze through the twisted minds of Disgorge, Deeds Of Flesh, Devourment, and numerous others, all of whom have a singular dedication to destroying every pair of ears they come across. As such, it is a niche sub-genre that only attracts those who can absorb the chaotic barrage of violent sound and taste each individual instrument and the symphonies of sickness they impart (not an easy task, but one that delivers infinite rewards).
With the evolution of this music, other influences started to appear, notably progressive death metal and technical death metal, both of which sit very comfortably in that murky swamp. Germany’s Defeated Sanity have focused heavily on the brutal aspect since their beginning in 1993, with the tech area becoming more and more of a highlight with each successive release. On their last album, 2016’s Disposal Of The Dead // Dharmata, they split the record in two; the first half was signature technical brutal death metal, with the latter half worshipping lavishly at the feet of prog death masters such as Atheist, Cynic, and even aspects of the mighty Watchtower. It was a brave move that split their fan-base for the first time – some just wanted the volley of extreme sound that was Disposal Of The Dead, whilst others (myself included) really dug on the expertly composed and played prog structures of Dharmata.
The Sanguinary Impetus seamlessly takes the best parts of both worlds and mashes them into a tight, impressive package. The foundation is still very much rooted in the brutal camp (with possibly even more old-school death metal thrown in for good measure), the technicality shows the talents of the players without entering noodly territory, and prog is present (mostly in composition rather than execution) devoid of any pretension or overblown concept. At a run-time of 33 minutes, the songs don’t overstay their welcome, but the ‘Sanity lads throw everything and the baby’s bathwater into every second.
The mix, courtesy of the legendary Colin Marston, is compact enough to entertain the overwhelming heaviness, but still provide the clarity to take in everything that is on display. The band tends to change their line-up with almost every release, but even so, it was quite the surprise to see drummer Lille Gruber also taking on the guitar duties. That said, he is as proficient on the strings as he is on the skins, and he tackles both with unbelievable mastery. Jacob Schmidt is always a highlight, his bottom-end beyond compare and his lightning-fast runs and fills an astounding feat – he provides both the necessary rhythm section with a concrete base whilst still providing shred-worthy lines that would put a knot in anyone’s fingers (once again, avoiding a complete wank-fest). New vocalist Josh Welshman has all the deep growls, malicious shrieks, and burning intensity needed here, but the voice is stripped of any effects to reveal the man behind them. As with any brutal death vocalist, the vocal is merely an added instrument as you cannot discern lyrics, but he has amazing tone and an obvious passion for microphone destruction.
The album plays as one collective tank of destruction, but songs like “Drivelling Putrefaction,” “Imposed Corporeal Inhabitation,” and “Entity Dissolving Entity” are some of the finest tracks ever conceived by Defeated Sanity. The old-school ambience throughout provides all the dank atmosphere whilst allowing the three members to ‘rock out’ on their respective instruments, and here’s where the true success of The Sanguinary Impetus succeeds – this is a truly fun listen for folks that love extreme music. Even with all the testosterone-fuelled attack, you can hear that these guys are having the time of their lives laying waste to all before them, and that creates a new level of entertainment that makes for repeated listens.
Is it their finest album thus far? That is difficult to weigh up, especially with modern classics like Psalms Of The Moribund and Passages Into Deformity in the band’s discography. But this is the sound of a band that has pushed their boundaries over the years, found the parts that work for them, filtered them into one helluva strong collection of songs, and I can’t imagine that fans, old and new, won’t find this to be something exceptionally special.
The Sanguinary Impetus Track Listing:
2. Imposed Corporeal Inhabitation
3. Conceived Through Savagery
4. Insecta Incendium
5. Entity Dissolving Entity
6. Arboreously Transfixed
7. Propelled Into Sacrilege
8. Drivelling Putrefaction
9. Dislimbing The Ostracized
Run Time: 33 minutes
Release Date: July 24, 2020
Record Label: Willowtip Records