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Choice Cuts

UNDEATH's ALEXANDER JONES Discusses DEFACEMENT, And Their Ability To Rip Off Faces

Thanks to Netherlands for this one.

Choice Cuts 2022

It’s that time of year where like 80% of our wardrobe feels seasonally appropriate, as does the morbid subject matter of the music that we hold so dear. Look, I love summer as much as the next guy (my band printed custom beach towels for crying out loud) but it’s hard not to welcome the more frigid months with open arms when most of the media I consume is spiritually preparing me for all things cold and cryptic.

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Right around this same time last year I was alerted to a new band from the Netherlands called Defacement. Before my last remaining brain cells rubbed together to create the spark that reminded me that Defacement is a real word, my primordial death metal consciousness snickered at what seemed to be a ridiculous moniker. Was a Defacement a fantastical name for the act of removing someone’s face, i.e., de-facing them? The album art, which is efficient in its depiction of a poor soul bereft of face (as well as most of their skull) seemed to heavily imply as much. When the association finally registered for me, I asked myself a harrowing question: were these Dutch upstarts naming themselves with a pun? Once I finally clicked play on their self-titled debut album, however, all traces of humor were incinerated. Defacement does not, will not, and simply can not fuck around. Not even for a second.

There are no moments of levity on this record, and the few that might pass for them on lesser records feel like momentary lapses in the torture that Defacement is carrying out upon you for the album’s 40 minutes. Descriptors like “blackened death metal” and “dissonant death metal” feel most apt here, but they also feel insincere in the face of exactly what Defacement has accomplished with this stunning first offering, which is a veritable marathon of relentless death metal intensity. There are four songs on this record, each approaching the ten-minute mark, and they each bear proficiently evocative titles: “Shattered”, “Disavowed”, “Disenchanted” and “Wounded”. These tracks are broken up by a four-part suite of brief minute-long interludes simply named “Limbo”. These are all small words with enormous implications, and track begins at breakneck speed as if trying to outrun the multitude of terrors such plainspoken language can conjure.

Each musician on Defacement holds their own and then some, and everyone gets ample opportunities to spotlight their morbid skillset here, but if there’s a true star of the show on this record it’s without question drummer Mark Bestia. Where meeker drummers would be satisfied with simply putting the hammer down and white-knuckle blasting through each of these tracks, Mark’s treats them all like a high-flying act, frequently accenting what could easily become monotonous intensity with breathtaking fills and an almost jazz-like approach to timekeeping. It’s a stunning performance from a drummer who I hope to hear much more from in the years to come.

Defacement is an album that’s captivated me from the moment I first heard it and I’m sincerely looking forward to diving back into its murky depths this fall. It’s astonishing to me that this band is apparently a side project, as the members main focus appears to be their death metal band Deathcrush (which I admittedly have not checked out yet, but that Mayhem reference is too good not to pursue further). This feels like the kind of album that other bands would need at least three or four records under their belt first to even begin to approximate, and Defacement knocked it out of the park immediately.

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