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Live Report: Defeated Sanity and Behold… The Arctopus @ St. Vitus

Is death metal a music made of anger? I’m beginning to wonder. My appreciation for it has waned considerably the past few years. I believe this coincides with a return to my “senses.” A state of reason and inner-journey that has allowed for a clearer picture to emerge. I’d say 90% of death metal made today is quite intolerable. This is just my “thing” though. Nonetheless, I believe the early death metal (the good, aging-well death metal I can still listen to) had its roots in hardcore and punk. The bands that extracted from those early bands had less, naturally. The bands that extracted from that second and third wave, even lesser — and so and so on.

But hardcore and punk is built on anger, you say. What connection are you making? Well, there are certainly different kinds of anger. Anger towards the destruction and holocaust of innocent animals, anger against corporations de-humanizing working individuals: those are types of anger centered on love. Anger against people that are different than you, anger against intellectualism and reason: those are types of anger centered on hate. There’s an infinite difference between the two. What does this have to do with anything? Well, maybe I’m not sure. It’s just what I’m seeing with my eyes and what I’m hearing with my ears. Death metal might be absolutely dead to me, but there is power in it still.

Case in point: Defeated Sanity: a German band with swift technique and violent aggression, but too violent for me. At least in person at a live witnessing. Wednesday night at St. Vitus you could feel the emotion behind the group, behind the crowd: there was a palpable destruction in the air. I ducked many leg kicks to take some pictures that came out like absolute shit. Why? I’m not sure. I know at one point in my life this was probably the exact band that I was looking for: technical as hell, rigid, science fiction-like, and angry as shit. The band members might not be angry at all though; I haven’t done my homework; but the energy is.

I’m old. So this might just be age, but I don’t think so. Note: be careful how you spend your time, kids. You only get so much of it.

Aeviterne opened up and were pretty cool. A NYC band featuring members from Artificial Brain and Castevet, they were lucid and light, meaning you could feel them without having to give in. There was a thinking man’s regime applied. I think live, the band suffered a little in its complete totality (this is hard stuff to pull off), but not much. There was certainly a road being bent and then bent back again with a loosened ridge. Nice touch on the edges; and though someone would say “angry” as fuck, I would say not. These guys are fighting the good fight.

Scaphism is from Boston (the lead singer even made a “Boston” reference, which I missed), and they sound sort of like Lamb of God. I don’t like Lamb of God. I did a little at one point, but it was fleeting. So while I didn’t really “like” the music Scaphism was playing, they were certainly adept and powerful. You could feel the weight of madness and anger, or maybe just confusion, in the room.

Behold… The Arctopus are like a jazz trio disguised as a death metal band (a weird one at that). The group (featuring Colin Marston, Jason Bauers, and on this night, Mick Barr) would close their eyes continuously, breathing in the jagged layers executed by Marston’s Warr guitar. That thing is a beast, and he utilizes it to create this artful and unique approach to extreme music. Barr, Marston’s teammate in Krallice and a NYC virtuoso with high taste, was the highlight of the whole show. He only played three or so solos the entire night (regular guitarist Mike Lerner was sick), but man, what a sight: Solos of epic proportion. Not much “bad” anger in Behold… The Arctopus. It’s the kind of thing that you can admire and consume with mindfulness. They seem bent on bending the game — no conforming. Very punk.

Defeated Sanity was intense. Their sound was precise and culminating. Brutal death metal, I think it is. As stated earlier, it was hard because of the varying levels of anger going on during the show. But overall, it was something to take note of. The band was playing a short American tour, and it makes sense; that stuff they do is a workout.

Is there hate within the musicians of Defeated Sanity — and what kind of hate, if so? I don’t know. Maybe it shouldn’t matter. But with the world crumbling before our very eyes, writing misanthropic death metal albums is just one thing. Do we want to “envision” our deaths, and make art out of it; or do we want to make a better universe for all beings?

I think death metal for me know might represent over-consumption: staggering amounts of insanity. Defeated Sanity is a band of the present, though. You can’t argue against that.

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