Disfiguring the Goddess’s New Release Just Barely Deprives Itself of Greatness
It’s easy to see why brutal death metal and slam are rarely taken seriously. The musical premise is fairly ridiculous – vocals that sound like draining water, frequently incompetent guitarists, and muddy, tin-can production – but a premise that is still taken seriously by a vast majority of slam artists. The magic of Disfiguring The Goddess is that Cameron Argon doesn’t take his music seriously at all. This is the reason the genre is starting to become both more popular and more accessible – more and more people are realizing that slam doesn’t have to be taken seriously, when it was formerly a genre that even 99% of metalheads wouldn’t touch. Deprive is heavy and brutal without being over the top, with staggering production values and songs that have a developed sense of instrumentation as well as vocalization. Unfortunately, the album’s brief length keeps it from reaching its maximum potential.
Cam’s sense of song structure is the strongest fiber in Disfiguring The Goddess’s fabric. It’s not even slam, really; the music has an aversion to the formulaic ideal of gluing power chords together. Deprive is structured as a sort of slam “riff salad” a la Suffocation rather than gratuitously stringing breakdowns together. The album takes the furious impact of Sleeper and blends it with the consistent songwriting of Circle of Nine for a more balanced set of grooves, tremolo, and chunk. Imagine making sewage into an energy drink, and you’d have a rough idea of Deprive’s filthy power. The previous dogmatic abuse of that one specific gallop rhythm has decreased to a dedicated but experimental addiction to triplets, like in the driving punch of “Death’s Head Mask” and “Home of the Dollmaker.” Instrumental versions of this music may sound entirely unappealing on paper, but here, they’re actually good enough to stand on their own: tracks like “Industrial Quarter” and “Old Man” certainly aren’t lacking anything from the sparse use of vocals.
Sonically, Deprive hits it out of the ballpark. The production is denser than osmium but still manages to maintain clarity and an undeniably unique character. Cam’s inventive rhythms pair viciously with the ridiculously low-tuned guitars; bass throbs like the heart of an 80-year-old smoker, fuzzy and diseased. Argon’s vocal approach, too, has adapted – higher screams find their way into the mix amongst the bowel-disrupting gutturals. The incorporation of electronic elements has always made DTG stand out from other similar artists, and Deprive continues to advance this sentiment. “The Pathway to Everlasting Nothingness” concludes with a tormented, drawn-out yell that hangs distended over a ghostly sweep of orchestral arpeggiation. The forward-then-backwards choir samples in “Death’s Head Mask” and “Home of the Dollmaker” add a layer of malignance that no amount of metal instrumentation could have afforded. The inclusion of these elements is only possible because Cam doesn’t look at DTG from a “brutal death metal” perspective – many artists would reject electronics on basis of not being true to the spirit of slam, and yeah, there’s some melodrama here, but that’s exactly what we need. Oddly enough, we can emotionally connect more with this music, because we feel that there’s a real person behind its production rather than a trio of over-serious pessimists with fetishized sexual interests.
Still, Cam’s failure to take DTG entirely seriously has a negative impact as well – namely, the fact that we end up with a seven-track-long, nineteen-minute “full-length.” Those who follow Big C will know that his interest in metal vocals has significantly waned. The instruments were completed in the first half of the year, but vocals weren’t recorded until recently; hell, Cam wasn’t even finished mastering until a week ago. As a non-performing side project, there’s less incentive for Cam to put maximum effort into Disfiguring The Goddess. Deprive is musically compelling, but the appeal is seriously diminished by its brevity. I’m still surprised whenever I reach the end of the eighteen-minute whirlwind – it feels like we’ve just been set up for a climax and a punishingly heavy resolution, but the album simply cuts off, leaving us thirsting for more. Deprive ends after it’s barely begun. It’s a shame, since this album is a near-perfect amalgamation of the best elements of Sleeper and Circle of Nine, but we’ll have to wait for one more release for DTG to fully pull through.