Formed in 2015, San Diego death metal band Defixion has sought to merge death metal with exploration of themes surrounding ancient cults and rituals. While that might bring a certain type of death metal that groups like Grave Miasma have been exploring in recent memory, Defixion instead pulls from a more old-school death metal base with an emphasis on technical riffing. On their EP Tabella Defixionis, which was reissued by Xtreem Music in June after an independent release at the beginning of the year, the band flies through fast and furious death metal while letting their mystique hover over it. While there remains room for Defixion to meld these two sides of their music together further and truly stand out from the pack, they’re still off to a strong start and have what it takes to draw listeners in.
Given their thematic explorations it makes sense that the EP doesn’t launch directly into its attack, instead offering a ritual chant as its intro. This might lead the uninitiated to wonder exactly what they’re getting themselves into, but once “Lux Diurna (Soothing the Gods)” kicks in that blast of fast paced death metal riffing provides the answer. Defixion isn’t just built for speed though, as in between their bursts of faster thrash edged sections that recall bands like Vader there are slower breaks where the instrumentals double down on both the sheer heaviness and throw in some scorching solos for good measure. There’s a good deal of influence from both coasts of the United States to be found here, though with the way that the songs transition between tempos on a regular basis they don’t tend to fall into patterns that come across as worship of one particular band. One thing that I did notice is that as the tempos start to slow more of the atmosphere starts to seep in, and this is an area that I’d like to see expanded upon further as Defixion moves towards a full-length as it would help them to stand out further.
Vocalist Horosis is where some more of the Vader type sound comes into play, as his low guttural growl has a similar pitch that stands above the instrumentals and commands your attention from one moment to the next. It works to Defixion’s advantage and considering that the growls and screams are being used to conjure up ancient curses and invocations it makes the material have all the more weight and intensity. The closing track IE Pan, IE Eleusis” is a great example as the guttural ranges seem to get more and more distorted until they finally fade out into otherworldly sounding chanting. Lyrical content isn’t usually something I touch upon in my reviews given they’re so subjective, but these guys are pulling from outside of what you would expect for this particular variant of death metal and I’m interested to see what they can channel next.
Defixion has established a strong base to build off of in the coming years, as Tabella Defixionis is capable of drawing in death metal fans with its intriguing lyrical content and destructive riffs. With their technical proficiency and mix of influences already delivering a bit more diversity to the songwriting, if the band can further integrate the occult atmosphere into the music just as heavily as the lyrics they’ll be unstoppable in the years to come. Tabella Defixionis is available from Xtreem Music.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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