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The Defaced - "Anomaly" (CD)

The Defaced - "Anomaly" CD cover image

"Anomaly" track listing:

1. Remaining Eternal (3:30)
2. Flame to Life (4:06)
3. Blood of Emeralds (4:04)
4. In Solitude Entwined (4:14)
5. The Perfect Shame (4:06)
6. Circle VIII (3:53)
7. Renewal Defined (4:39)
8. Imprisoned Insolence (2:51)
9. Turn to Incomplete (3:46)
10. The Fundamental Human Neurosis (4:39)
11. The Test (3:14)

Reviewed by on February 4, 2011

"The lesson we learn from The Defaced is that metal super groups are dangerous."

Ever since the Swedes got bored with their original and awesome death metal bands toward the end of the 1990s, they’ve started a death metal key party. The Defaced has been happy to sleep around the last decade or so, claiming members from Soilwork, Darkane, Terror 2000, and Kayser. I am a fan, to varying degrees, of all of those bands, particularly Soilwork (2010’s “The Panic Broadcast” was pretty phenomenal, for example). So a super group from those sources sounds like a good idea, right? Wrong.

The Defaced has been around for a decade and released three studio full-lengths and a couple EPs, but man, “Anomaly” just isn’t much good. How to describe it? Lifeless, uninspiring, unexciting, tired… you get the picture. The problem really is that the band just doesn’t know what to do, and can’t find a sound/groove/niche. Looking for answers, The Defaced turned to all of the following (not a complete list): weakly pinched harmonics on opener “Remaining Eternal,” out-of-place samples on “Flame to Life,” good cop/just-a-little-meaner cop on “Blood of Emeralds,” banal nu-metal ballads on “In Solitude Entwined” and “Renewal Defined,” barely broken down ‘core on “Circle VIII,” and even hardcore vocals that border on rap-rock on “Turn to Incomplete.” The Defaced can’t do anything well.

Digging under the surface it is clear the various members don’t get their weapons firing in the same direction at the same time. Vocalist Henrik Sjowall gets credit for trying to harmonize his clean vocals without auto-tune, but his shouts and bellows wouldn’t scare a puppy and are swallowed up by his mates. Bassist Jorgen Lofberg plays some neat lines but the production buries him under the downtuned-but-played-high guitars of Klas Ideberg and Mattias Svensson. Speaking of which, Ideberg and Svensson write some good riffs and layered solos, but pack too much material into each space. Drummer Henry Ranta doesn’t know what to do with himself if he isn’t playing like a triggered machine. This isn’t to belittle these specific players in general of course, as they are always much better in their other bands, but they just can’t gel here.

The lesson we learn from The Defaced is that metal super groups are dangerous. For every success like Damageplan and Down (thanks Pantera!) there is an epic fail like Iron Steel and Sun Red Sun. The combination of musical styles, egos, politics, and booze preferences is like giving strike anywhere matches to a professional pyro – this is going to end up awesomely good or awesomely bad, but either way we are going to get huge explosions. Well, The Defaced got all blown up, and not in the good way.

Highs: The solo breaks are the best moments, since they are the most straightforward and uncluttered moments.

Lows: The scattered arrangements don’t allow for any song to rise above the rest.

Bottom line: Swedish melodic death metal super group can’t get good individual players to gel.

Rated 1.5 out of 5 skulls
1.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)