Artist: Eyes of the Defiled
Album: Enslaved in Exile
Take a look at your “recently added” list on iTunes (or whatever music player you use). Chances are, it is littered with “progressive” this and “technical” that, right? Or maybe it’s filled to the brim with bands cashing in on the revival of all things “nu.” No matter what the case may be, there can be no doubt that deathcore as a genre has changed—grown away from its roots of pure, ruthless aggression, lightning-like speed and bone-breaking brutality. But like members of the hardcore community have been preaching for years, maybe it’s time for deathcore to turn retrospective—to study and embrace its roots. For these moments of skin-rending reflection, there is solace to be found in Eyes of the Defiled, a crushing, cut-throat Christian deathcore outfit out of Crisfield, Maryland. Their latest release, Enslaved in Exile is a lesson in good ol’ deathcore in its most textbook form—from blast beats 101 to introduction to breakdowns’n’brees, Enslaved in Exile is a release that does deathcore so well, the listener might mistake it for an ancient On Solid Ground or Impending Doom album.
Skin-shredding speed. Relentless heaviness. Immediately, Eyes of the Defiled begin their assault on the listener with a cavalcade of deathcore’s most time-tested tenements. From the very beginning of “His Exalt,” Cody Bradshaw steamrolls the listener into submission with beefy, plodding kick drum that flows fluidly into drop-of-a-dime fills and firing-squad style blast beats. “The Cleansing” is no different, brilliantly illustrating not just how well-rounded a drummer Bradshaw is, but how brilliantly he can transition from sinister, snails-pace breakdowns to blitzkrieging blast beats and brutalizing fills. Alongside him rip the fretted furies David Tyler and Daric Evans. Evans makes Bradshaw’s beefy bass drum even thicker and heavier by adding a low, rumbling bass riff that fits every occasion and instance on the release. However, atop the entire mess of mesmerizingly heavy and low instrumentation rests Tyler’s tenacious, terrifying fretwork. While “His Exalt” opens with pummeling down-tuned insanity, setting the tone (and a low one at that) for the rest of the release, Tyler is far from a one-trick pony. “Manifest of the Inhuman” opens with subtle, atmospheric strumming that melts almost instantly into pure evil—while “Embrace the Violence” and “A Future of Unknown” venture bravely into realms of skin-shredding technicality, for those who may become weary and tired of the toggled, tedious chugging that defines the opening tracks of the release.
Enslaved in Exile does deathcore proud with its instrumentation—for this there is simply no alternative truth. However, where Eyes of the Defiled glow with instrumental prowess, they positively shine with sheer vocal brilliance. Vocalists Chris Rowe and Brad Kraus unleash scream after scream and shout after shout of pure, unfiltered mayhem. Their dual vocal assault is a dynamic means of breaking any form of otherwise-minimal monotony. “Your Days Are Numbered” is an especially extraordinary track in the sense where it indeed features an additional vocalist, coalescing three fierce vocal ranges into one unstoppable onslaught aimed directly at the listener’s sanity. However, where the chimeric monster that is “Your Days Are Numbered” is dense with vocal magnificence, it would be folly to say that guest Martin Padilla is key to the band’s success. “The Cleansing” and “Prophetic Testimony” are two other tracks where everything from bree’d, squealed screams to sky-high shrieks showcase Rowe and Kraus’ wondrous partnership and microphone-manifested mayhem.
Between visceral, vocal intensity and marvelous musical dynamism, Eyes of the Defiled have crafted one of 2014’s few testaments to pure deathcore. Enslaved in Exile might not have Rings of Saturn’s penchant for shred, nor Traitors’ super-slow crush, but it does have near-perfect execution in deathcore the way tried-and-true fans of the genre remember it. For those of us who can remember unwrapping Oceano’s Depths or Impending Doom’s “Nailed. Dead. Risen.,” there are flashbacks aplenty to be had in moments of “Manifest of the Inhuman” or “Baptized in Fire.” True enough, it might not be an album dripping with originality, and it might not break the mold, but it is an album which promises to stay strong and weather the test of time—a test many of deathcore’s up-and-coming ultra-progressive acts cannot even begin to endure. Whether it’s Rowe and Kraus’ cunning vocal patterns or the way Tyler’s fretwork gains technicality as the release progresses, Eyes of the Defiled have captured the pure essence of deathcore on Enslaved in Exile, and they are hardly afraid to admit it.
“Those who do not study their past are doomed to repeat it.” Sound familiar? Chances are, your 8th grade history class or recent parental lecture began with some adaptation of that postulate. Eyes of the Defiled are living testaments to this fact—however, where some might be ashamed, and where others might find it a negative, they wear it proudly on their sleeves with Enslaved in Exile—an album that paints a perfect picture of deathcore the way it ought to be.
For Fans Of: On Solid Ground, Carnifex, Oceano, Whitechapel, Impending Doom
By: Connor Welsh