Album: Integral Annihilation – EP
Mankind’s roots are embedded in destruction and violence. Sure, we’ve done a lot of good things too—cured diseases, created civilizations (that one can be a plus or a minus on any given day), develops arts, music, sciences, mathematics…there have been a lot of great ways that humanity has contributed to life on planet earth. But the fact remains: we’ve done a lot of awful things too. Now imagine taking every instance of crime, oppression, slaughter and violence and combining them into one amalgam of annihilation. Think of it as an integration of every negative act one human has committed against another. What you’d get is exactly that, the remorseless and relentless new EP by Californian crushers Defiants, aptly titled Integral Annihilation. Cruel from start to finish, Defiants take deathcore and brutal death metal elements and smash them together in a head-on collision that encapsulates raw heaviness at its finest and most furious. From slams that melt flesh from bone to breakdowns and grinding, grisly riffs that reduce the bone itself to dust, Defiants are an up-and-coming heavy act that fans of all things punishing and pulverizing need to acquaint themselves with.
Earning the right to equate yourselves synonymous with the summation of sinister actions committed by man is no simple feat—fortunately, Defiants are far from a simple band. Integral Annihilation is relentless in its quest to oppress the listener without difficulty or second thought. From the ominous introduction to the album’s introductory track to the slamming conclusion to “Father of the Abyss” and every second in between, percussionist Sam Coleman is crushing; dominating with a devious and bouncy candor that oft dives into demonic speed or dreary, languishing and lurid sludge. “This World is Not Ours” or even the introduction serve as incredible examples of this—as Coleman channels traditional deathcore elements with hints of groove and brutal death metal both to create a foundation that is nothing but pure insanity. “Behemoth” displays this especially well—as does the first raunchy groove of “This World is Not Ours.” With the monstrous—no, goliath—slam that ends “Behemoth,” Coleman works diligently with bassist Donnie Kimbrel and guitarist Alban Ruvalcaba to create a sound that brings new meaning to despair. “Behemoth” is the dreary and thick counterpart to the groovier and more moderately-paced “This World is Not Ours,” which employs lacerating blast beats from Coleman to add a choppy and spastic feel to the haunting leads from Ruvalcaba and groovy, snappy bass tone from Kimbrel. The instrumental aspect of Integral Annihilation only intensifies as “This World is Not Ours” ends and leads into the aptly named “Annihilation.” Where the former ends with sweeps that sound like they came straight out of 2009, the latter is more technically savvy and spazzy, with choppy percussion directing the song in and out of more aggressive moments between moments of catchy, bass-heavy groove (courtesy of Kimbrel). Things reach the very apex of their heaviness with “Plague Maker,” however, which is probably the closest thing to a nuclear onslaught the listener will ever want to observe in such close proximity to their heads.
You can’t rightly channel earlier-era deathcore and slamming brutal death metal without a fair display of vocal diversity—something frontman Dakota Brown does exceptionally well. Brown’s low growls are deep enough to hit the brown note, while his shrill screams and ear-shredding shrieks are nightmarish in the best way imaginable. His guttural bellows at the climactic and closing seconds of “Plague Maker” are practically toxic to the listener’s sanity—poisoning their mind and instilling instincts of violence and carnal aggression. Meanwhile, his variety throughout “Father of the Abyss” and “This World is Not Ours” are remarkable, exemplary in their ability to mirror the band’s dizzying and dynamic instrumentation. Brown’s vocals are the ideally brutal counterpart to the unbelievable power behind every chug, riff, slam and perfectly timed breakdown, adding a distinctly classic deathcore feel to even the more contemporarily written portions of Integral Annihilation; enabling fans of yesteryear’s acts gone by to rejoice unencumbered.
From the staggering, stuttering end of “Father of the Abyss” to the fleetly-fingered and furiously-fretted sweeps on “This World is Not Ours” and the boorish, brash brutality prevalent on “Behemoth,” Defiants are a band that stop at nothing to make raw, gritty heavy music. Period. Where their technicality comes and goes in fits, they are uniform in their attempts to oppress the listener into a deep, dirty grave by way of heavyweight chugs and breakdowns that segue into speedy slams and sinister riffs with just the right amount of atmosphere. In a time where it feels like every band has to have a gimmick to get noticed, it seems as if Defiants have found theirs on Integral Annihilation: pure, punishing and peerless destruction, the embodiment of eviscerating and evil music.
For Fans Of: Oceano, Ingested, Lorna Shore, Jerome, We Are the End
By: Connor Welsh