Humanity Defiled - _Circling the Drain_
(Independent, 2013)
by: Dan Lake (8.5 out of 10)
So much death metal, um, circles the same old tired topics. Zombies? Been there. Satan? Done that. Serial killers? Got the human-skin T-shirt. There's a lot to love about spine-stomping brutality, in both sound and lyrical content, but sometimes it's hard to keep it fresh.

Which is why there's so much more to love about Humanity Defiled. We'll get to the music in a bit. First, let's focus on the man behind the metal. That's right -- Humanity Defiled is a one-Belgian death metal demon raiser, and before you shrug off and cry gimmick, know that this personal quality is what gives the project its defining allure. Iwein Denayer didn't gather a bunch of buddies this time to shred pits and headbutt bros. HD is a solo studio outlet for his very real frustrations with human darkness. Denayer works as a youth counselor, and by his own admission he routinely encounters the most bewildering pain and emotional suffering in the young people he helps. HD (and another project, Doodsangst) was born from his need to channel the experience with depression and suicide into musical form. _Circling the Drain_ was forged in real fire, true dissonance with mundane life, making the record's impact all the more potent.

_CtD_ sounds familiar, comfortable within its death metal framework. That said, the riffing patterns are layered and always emotionally engaging. Percussion wraps every song in an edgy urgency. The production worms into that subtle sweet spot between clarity and filth, where every chord pulses thick and dripping across the burly charge and hoarse gorilla vocals of each song. The songs themselves are content to fill about three minutes each, except for "Exit?", a nine-minute monstrosity that might just be the best doom track I've heard all year. It's a legendary wrestling match between Evoken and Hooded Menace, refereed by a psychologist who describes the central dilemma of suicidal thoughts. Maybe personal taste weighs heavily here, but I dare you to hear "Exit?" and not get sucked in. And stick around for the closer, a cover of Dax Riggs' "A Spinning Song", a definite secondary highlight.

Lots of death metal will spread its blackened blossoms this year. For my money (or not; I'm pretty sure it's free at Bandcamp) nothing's gonna touch the nauseous reality conveyed by Humanity Defiled on _Circling the Drain_.


(article published 30/6/2013)

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