Released: 2011, Equinoxe Records
Leipzig, Germany’s Mental Defect has embraced the now expected trend of having a female singer contrasted with gruff male vocals in the symphonic, melodic metal genre. The five-piece was founded in 2008 and recorded a demo in 2009 prior to beginning work on their first full length album, LONGPLAYER. The promotional material features the photogenic front woman Clodi in crochet-holed stockings before proceeding to school the boys in a game of craps. The band employs a casino theme on the album cover and on tour, perhaps in hopes that you will gamble on listening to them. Mental Defect is certainly not the first band to exploit the good looks of their female centerpiece, but the promotional tagline is inexplicable, “the German answer to Evanescence.”! Yeah, right.
First things first, the promotional tagline while inaccurate, is also misleading and unfortunate for both the band and potential listeners. Any Evanescence fan that tunes in hoping for something similar will not be pleasantly surprised to hear instead, a mixed brew of black metal, death metal, metalcore, and gothic. Likewise, the fans most likely to appreciate Mental Defect will immediately dismiss them upon reading any comparisons to Evanescence. Thus, the marketing of this album has likely already doomed it. This would be a shame if the music on the album was blazing and inspirational but alas it is lukewarm. LONGPLAYER is an album that borrows from many bands, notably Beseech, In Flames, and a host of other female fronted metal bands. Clodi is a good singer with a limited but comforting range and frankly she should be singing all of the songs alone, but more on that in a moment. Musically, the band is more than competent, capably layering a dark and gloomy landscape of sounds. “Won’t Grow Up” is a stand out track, notably because Clodi handles all the vocal duties, but the production has the song fading in and out making you think something is wrong with your speakers or ears.
Unfortunately, the group feels that to distinguish themselves from the countless bands that utilize the male/female vocal formula, co-singer Sanny has to employ the reptilian croak of black metal combined with Arch Enemy inflections and occasional death metal growls. Not surprisingly, the music moves into black metal tremolos and sounds when Sanny is uhh…singing. “Wasted Love” is good example of this wasted effort. The contrast is not a good one leaving no one happy as the two styles just do not blend smoothly. Another incredibly annoying feature is that the keyboards double the guitar riffs in many places and in such a way that it sounds like a chorus is singing in the background during the entire song. Maybe the band should have been a black metal band only. I mean all the requisite ingredients are present: muddied and crappy production, check. Shitty reptile vocals, check. Awful keyboards, check. You can safely skip this one, at least until Clodi takes over all the vocal duties.