Release - 2010
Type - CD
Label - Willowtip
We all have at least one. That one album, from band X, with three really good songs surrounded by b-side filler. Those are seriously the best songs they ever wrote - yet whenever you want to hear that band you always find yourself reaching for their other CD. Why? Because at the end of the day, it's all about consistency. It's the internet age - if you want to hear those three songs, hit up their MySpace. It's also the instant gratification age and filler is far from gratifying.
Defeatist's latest studio output Sixth Extinction exudes consistency. It also doubles as a Master's thesis in Thinking Man's Grind. There is a steady onslaught of rhythm driven riffs coming at your from song to song - not your typical patchwork 4/4 cookie cutter grind, nor by the numbers death metal riffs strung together seemingly at random. Instead the riffs presented here tend to be longer in duration, well thought out, almost in a progressive fashion. But don't get me wrong - this is not noodling. And the grind staples are in fact present. Standard crust and ripping death metal riffs will show up time and again to trigger your inner head-nod button. They are just not the focal point. In a way, you could almost call this Technical Crust. What ever it is, you will listening to it - and probably learn something if you try to play along.
Between the odd riffs, and changes in tempo ranging from patient sludge to frenetic grind, there is both an illusion of space within the music and also some odd holes and down beats to fill. Enter drummer Joel Stallings. The drum work here is nothing short of phenomenal. With beats, rhythms and cymbal work as eccentric as the riffs themselves, Mr. Stallings comes through with full marks. So many other drummers would have blasted or rolled double base through this album. While we do get plenty of blast, thrash and d-beats, it's actually the rhythms, fills and transitions that help make Sixth Extinction such an exciting album.
Defeatist use a guitar tone and distortion much closer to crossover than death metal, so they have a distinct punk feel to the music. The bass is very low but you can hear it dribbling away at many points throughout the album. So far as production goes the stereo guitars dominate the mix. Behind them is the rhythm section with the vocals taking up all the space that is left. The vocals are shouted out, with some grunts and snarls for emphasis at certain points. If the vocals had a more sizable amount of the bandwidth I'd imagine they would wear on many listeners, but where they are is prefect.
I think this is an album for everyone. It is thinking man's grind, so not everything may get it the first time around. If you are a guitarist or a grind aficionado, pop this in and enjoy the ride. For those who prefer having their asses handed to them as opposed to the more subtle forms of punishment, my recommendation is to play the album once before listening. I like "Dawn of No Light" and also side with Brother Atanamar about the two-riff interlude "Death Holds Her Brood" and "Warning" as some of the better songs. Individual songs however might not be the best way to go on Sixth Extinction - for best results, set aside 27 minutes and listen to the whole thing. Then go buy it here. Get the t-shirt while your at it.