Released: 2012, code666
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
It’s a good time to be Polish and performing metal, be that from a national or international perspective, with stars such as Behemoth, Decapitated & Vader it’s undeniable that Central / Eastern Europe has established a firm clasp on the genre and excelled throughout. With death metal superstars such as Nergal & his band’s high gloss approach to video, as well as musical output, the bar is high and prominent.
With these standards set, you can’t help but baulk slightly against any band post-Cradle Of Filth using overly elaborate keyboard / synth intros, since invariably it’s one person’s vision relied upon to represent the entire band’s outlook as an overture but from a singular perspective. The production will normally be very different (due to direct recording; with no Moogs or analogue synths in sight giving no need for the prowess of an engineer) and can at times serve as an unfitting appetiser to what may follow from the ‘organic’ instruments. In this case, sadly, there is no exception to the rule.
As an extremely welcome breath of fresh air, some notably brutal (if a little overly compressed) extreme vocals open up the album and set the tone from the onset. Almost immediately, given album opener ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, direct comparisons with early-to-mid era Kovenant (yes, with a ‘K’) can be drawn but thankfully fizzle away into well considered moments of explorative noodling and genuinely well placed & expertly performed ICS Vortex-esque soaring clean vocals. Those more accustomed to the somewhat inexplicable absence of ‘rawk’ lead guitar in early / mid 2000s metal will be pleased to hear the very prominent inclusion of wah-pedal laden lead guitar interspersed tastefully between strong melodies & sincerely performed tunes-within-tunes.
Clearly a strong feature of the band’s lineup, lead guitarist Przemyslaw Smyczek sounds as though he has a considerable amount of practice under his belt and appears prominently, but never intrusively, throughout the entire album. Giving credit where credit is due, as a scene there are times when extreme metal as a whole has been crucially bereft of decent lead players willing to make a stamp with anything other than light speed dissonance, whereas here Smyczek unashamedly provides an enjoyable slew of mountain-top leadwork that rarely outstays its welcome.
Putting aside any recent moves between labels or shifts in their chosen genre’s trends, it is perhaps impossible to ignore that Eternal Deformity have been around for at least ‘a fair while’ ™ (early 90s), but loathe as anyone should be to damn an act for longevity, what can instead be expected is prowess in songwriting – whilst this is certainly prominent within Eternal Deformity’s ranks, there are a few glaring moments of questionable decision making as seen in their sporadically schizophrenic shifts between strongly constructed, anthemic choruses and poorly telegraphed gear shifts into sections of ‘brutal’ blasts that fall prey to overly prominent keyboard pads.
Competent production lifts the ‘The Beauty of Chaos’ from being merely a band who can write & perform moments of genuine beauty & introspection whilst still maintaining an edge, as showcased best in tracks such as ‘Caught out Lying’ – rich with harmonic minor scales and pleasingly unexpected shifts in meter, however sorely let down by (yet again) shockingly unfortunate choices in keyboard sounds.
When considering the overall sound of a band, it becomes difficult to imagine that someone, if not the entire band, has agreed on the overwhelming presence of keyboards that ultimately cloud not only the tonal range but clarity of an otherwise rich & sumptuously produced guitar sound. Gone perhaps are the days of mid-90s “the only good keyboarder is a dead keyboarder” prejudice, yet still some of the older acts cling desperately to the format of synth-led melodies and in this case much to the detriment of the tunes themselves. Equally as alienating as they are unexpected, Piotr Rokosz’s ubiquitous keyboard parts flit between tolerable & grating, as evidenced the most in the otherwise promising chugathon ‘The Beauty Of The Ultimate End’, leaving you begging for Smyczek’s return to the spotlight to settle the balance of overbearing and conflicting contributions to songs that would otherwise stand strongly enough on their own.
Finally, it’s at the album’s closing number ‘The Holy Decay’ that all members shine at their brightest, in particular drummer Tymoteusz Ciastko who underpins a number of sincerely beautiful clean guitar sections with reassuringly precise, no-frills / no-nonsense rhythm work that adds as much as it supports the song as a whole.
Some genuinely astounding artwork (together with some nods towards early Carcass ‘dead’ band member portraits) compliments this surprisingly cohesive mixture of all the best genres of the late 90s dark / extreme metal genres. If you’re prepared to gloss over the prominence of acts such as Theory In Practice & On Thorns I Lay then you’d do well to look into the technical proficiency of Eternal Deformity for something that is clearly still hugely vital & exciting for those making it. ED are at their best when casting their line of beguiling melody and catchy chorus (and for that must be congratulated), but regrettably fall short of making a mark with any extremity beyond the bench mark that was so easily surpassed by most bands making music after 2000.
Review by: Hal Sinden