(Austin Weber provides this review of performances by Defeated Sanity, Iniquitous Savagery, and Iniquitous Deeds in Louisville, Kentucky, on February 1.)
Seeing as this was the first metal show I was able to attend in 2016, I figured I should cover it. While I didn’t have my usual NCS photographer pal Nik Vechery with me, or a borrowed camera as I’ve used before, the photos my friend and I got of a few bands at least gives you something to look at. I mainly just wanted to discuss my impressions and thoughts about my two favorite bands of the night.
I had to pick up a friend on the way, so we ended up missing Abominant and most of Cryptic Hymn. I know NCS contributor Grant Skelton is really into Cryptic Hymn, and I thought they sounded pretty good live! But I didn’t get a picture of them either. So the review will sort of start with the third band to go on, Iniquitous Deeds.
Having covered Iniquitous Deeds last year at NCS (here), I was just as excited about seeing them as I was for Defeated Sanity. Their debut full-length, Incessant Hallucinations, was a strange and abstract achievement of technical brutal death metal that blew me away last year. They kind of remind me of Wormed, but have a larger emphasis on making their bassist an important and integral part of their sound than Wormed does.
Seeing the mind-blowingly intense music they craft on record performed live was akin to being tossed in a storm consisting of high velocity talent savaging you from multiple instrumental and vocal angles. The vocals were cavernous pig snarls from hell, their sole guitarist was jaw-dropping, their bassist was given plenty of room, as on the record, to carve out a lot of sick additions to their music. And the drumming was one of the most intense live death metal drum performances I’ve ever witnessed.
Music like this was meant to be experienced live to hear its full potential. I felt immersed in a swirling hyper-blast of cerebral yet visceral physical olympics. It was an odd kind of bliss, but it definitely left an impact and sense of joy with me that I won’t soon forget.
photo by Undead Scene Media
Iniquitous Savagery is a Scottish Brutal Death Metal band also performing on the current Defeated Sanity tour. They played right after Iniquitous Deeds. Last year they released an album called Subversions Of The Psyche that a lot of brutal death metal fans liked. In a live setting, I felt like they were playing really tight as a group, but the songwriting just wasn’t there. But that being said, their mix of early Cryptopsy and early Suffocation styles of music is pretty solid. I just feel like they have a ways to go to really be next-level stuff compared to some of their peers.
All in all, a ruthless performance that kept up the slamming, frenzied riffing, and gurgle vocals theme of the night. I didn’t get a picture of them because I thought my friend who was helping me take some on his phone had done so. The photo above I found to be particularly amusing, and was snapped at a tour date prior to the one I saw by Undead Scene Media.
Much like Iniquitous Deeds‘ performance earlier in the night, seeing Defeated Sanity in all their livid intensity and extremity was an absolutely astonishing thing to experience live. The band played songs from a number of their releases, and also played two new songs from their upcoming material that I felt sounded like some of their best stuff yet. Both of those sounded a bit different than normal for them, which particularly caught my interest.
While taking in their absurdly vicious live attack, my mind wandered to a quote from Albert Camus on absurdism, and its application to the live catharsis of seeing, and also in playing, the kind of ridiculous music performed by the bands I saw tonight do. The quote my mind went to in the moment was: “Basically, at the very bottom of life, which seduces us all, there is only absurdity, and more absurdity. And maybe that’s what gives us our joy for living, because the only thing that can defeat absurdity is lucidity.”
Oftentimes I feel like the view expressed there by Camus applies to a lot of the appeal of or interest in extreme metal, but I especially felt that connection last night when seeing the incredibly intense and hard-to-believe frenetic sets of Iniquitous Deeds and Defeated Sanity live. Maybe this is what meaning is for some of us in this bizarre scene. To howl at the void, aware of absurdity, but laughing along and tapping into what realizing the absurd nature of existence does for how one views what to do with life. Or what one does as a musician or artist of any stripe for catharsis and reflection, for that matter.
When I see the kinds of performances I saw tonight, I’m spellbound, and it’s in moments like these where I personally think that people who say Death Metal doesn’t have soul just aren’t getting it. That view often gets paired with the term “emotionless”, which has always seemed to be such a nonsensical take-away from extreme death metal, be it brutal or technical.
I felt a wave of different feelings from the night’s two best bands, ranging from existential angst, to paranoia, to misery, and felt inspired by the physical triumph of such dexterous performances that push the limits of what we can do with our bodies. I came away from their set with a whole new appreciation for the special craft Defeated Sanity bring to their brand of demented death metal.