Defiled - In Crisis (Season of Mist/Riot)

Is it too early to start on the "Best Of" 2011 list?

Japan's Defiled returns with a resounding statement in its first album in eight years, and fourth full length overall, In Crisis. The album begins with a warped, twisted, dreamlike and atmospheric intro, From Alpha, which sets the tone for the overall sound and feel of the album. From then on out it's all out war as Lethal Agitator blasts through the speakers with drum and bass tracks that positively explode through the mix with pure, unequaled strength. It's technical and old school. Spawn of Possession, Deeds of Flesh, Dying Fetus, Gorod, Suffocation—elements of all the greats can be found. Low but clearly enunciated vocals courtesy of Kenji Sato are delivered forcefully amid the technical but controlled chaos of this head bang worthy opening track.

Retrogression is next up, beginning with a breakdown. The bass line played by Haruhisa Takahata is pure low crouch madness, raw and powerful, unfiltered and uncontained, and guitarist, founding member and main songwriter Yusuke Sumita's riffs rip through the cortex to the birthplace of insanity itself. If Japan has a counterpart to Morbid Angel's Trey Azagoth, Sumita is it. Two tracks in and Defiled are already proving that they can throw down with the giants of technical death metal such as Origin, or relative newcomers Brain Drill.

Drummer Takahiro Okada serves up the ultimate battery on the next track, Unconscious Slavery, and at this point something must be said about this disc's production. Opinions will no doubt vary, but in this reviewer's opinion Defiled's choice in sound for this album simply rolls over modern death metal production, which makes the bass drum sound like a wet carp being slapped against the broad side of a barn. This is what modern death metal should sound like—raw intensity, unchecked aggression, and natural, trigger-free sound captured with the noise of the air being pushed out of the cabinets left intact.

It all adds up to a sound that makes the disc seems like less of a CD and more of an incendiary device thrown into a gas-filled, bare concrete-walled room. Add this to the prowess of the guitar work, the rawness of the vocal attack, and the crowd pleasing fist pump passages, and we've got a serious heavyweight contender going to work on the body and the brain.

Each subsequent song goes straight for the synapses, obliterating the mind, breaking it down one piece at at time and rebuilding it in a twisted, mechanical form. The fluidity of the bass work on Paradoxical Chaos simply can't be touched. The title track is mental illness in musical form—a bestial symphony of primal confusion and schizophrenic visions from the areas of the mind humanity would rather leave untapped. By the time Behind You Pray comes on, it's apparent that Defiled have taken everything that is right with technicality, musicianship, and competent songwriting and brought them together in a package as well rounded as any band in the business. A truly career defining effort.

Resentment Without End swirls round like a virulent mass of venomous, carnivorous winged earwigs, ripping any remnants of sanity out through the ear canal. Chaotic vocal lines bring a welcome dose of unpredictability with a mix of Frank Mullen and J.R. Hayes does death metal. Intolerant exudes raw emotion via the kick drums as the song goes back and forth through the various stages of nuclear fusion, taking the listener back to the days when giant albums like Breeding the Spawn decimated the death metal community. Maze of Nescience has brilliantly layered guitar tracks for maximum sonic effect. It's a tactical track, like machinery that evolves as it interacts, conquers, and becomes self aware.

What else can Defiled do at this point? The last full song, Revelation of Doom, comes around and the band has already laid everything to waste. There's nothing left to prove, and yet they pull out one more deadly track.

If eight years between albums is what it takes to make a record this good, then more bands should consider letting an eight-year itch build up before heading back into the studio. By the time this final mechanical salvo is over, there's not a cranial capillary left. The outro, To Omega, puts the finishing touches on the record, continuing on the theme of the intro.

Consider this an early candidate for death metal release of 2011.  

Defiled's In Crisis is out now on Season of Mist/Riot.