Disfiguring the Goddess
Circle of Nine
01. The Age of Seraphim
02. Throne of the Meek
03. Void Leacher
04. Mind Infection
05. Circle of Nine
06. Stroggos War
07. Breaching The Clone
10. Time Spanned
Admittedly, I’ve never paid much attention to Cam Argon, aka “Big Chocolate“, or his various musical endeavors. I just didn’t have the bandwidth for a kid who specializes in home-made dubstep and deathcore, no matter how many people were swinging on his nuts. But 2011 has been a year of firsts for me, and I’m glad I decided to start paying attention to more artists in the ‘one man bedroom band’ genre, because there has been some fabulous music coming our way from these dudes. 2011 has already seen great releases from Keith Merrow, Paul Wardingham, Tre Watson, and Drewsif Stalin, just to name a few. I’m sure part of the reason I got interested in and became a fan of these artists is that I’ve been dabbling in the field myself. So I’ve been listening to a lot of other one man productions to kind of chart myself against the competition, so to speak. And if I’m being honest, every one of the guys I just listed makes me want to give up music and producing forever because they blow my shit out of the water. Anyway…
Now we have Big Chocolate’s full length release from his Disfiguring The Goddess project. An utterly crushing, futuristic, slamming death metal slab that is not just ‘impressive for a homegrown, self-produced project’. No sir, what we have here in Circle of Nine is an album that may be the future of death metal as we know it, and could very well be one of the final nails in the coffin of the entire deathcore genre.
Circle of Nine simply reaches a level of heaviness that all deathcore bands aspire too, but few will ever achieve. While most deathcore and death metal pleasantly (or terribly, depending on who we’re talking about) rapes the eardrums, Disfiguring the Goddess launches an impossibly focused assault on all the senses. The guitars are tuned insanely low yet retain a razor sharp quality and tonal definition despite most of the riffs being played on the bottom few strings. I’m not even sure there is bass on the album, but it hardly matters. The programmed drums are somewhat par-for-the-course, but very well crafted. And in addition to playing all the instruments, Cam roars like the bastard grandson of Chris Barnes throughout. For all the hype he gets, he really could be one of the best guttural vocalists on the planet. Absolute brutality.
But absolute brutality doesn’t always equate to a great album, does it? Fortunately, that is where this album shines the most. The songs are very well arranged and incredibly catchy considering how heavy and generally devoid of melodic content they are. The main riffs on album opener “Age of Seraphim”, “Stroggos War”, and “Mind Infection” are great examples. I often find these parts stuck in my head for hours on end—how is that possible? That’s like walking down the street and witnessing a madman violently stab somebody to death, and then humming the sounds of the attack all the way home. What a catchy bludgeoning that was! Ridiculous I know.
Elsewhere on the album, Cam employs some non-traditional instrumentation and puts his dubstep background to good use to keep things interesting. “Breaching the Clone” has a cool keyboard intro that is also recalled at the end of the track, and the midway point of “Stroggos War” has a nice electronic glitch and flourish before getting back to kicking your balls in. “Void Leacher” has a choral sample that adds a great vibe to the spacey outro, and the title track has a crazy break that features what sounds like acoustic guitar, keyboards, and crickets chirping or some shit. But all of these added elements serve not as a distraction but as haunting, diseased ornaments to a devasting and groove-filled slamfest.
Some may have issues with the production being too glossy and clean, but not me. The songs are so low and heavy that we need as much sonic clarity as possible, and I think Big Chocolate strikes a fine balance. He achieves a very futuristic sound while maintaining a DIY ethos-I’m not sure if this is an apt comparison, but it reminds me of Scott Hull’s production style with Agoraphobic Nosebleed on 2009’s Agorapocalypse. Performances that may be borderline impossible to replicate live, but utilize modern technology for maximum effect while retaining a certain DIY passion and charm.
Circle of Nine is what I was hoping death metal would sound like in the year 2011. This is a monumental achievement, and a surprise frontrunner for death metal album of the year. If Cam ever adds some shredding guitar solos to the mix, Disfiguring the Goddess could just become my favorite band ever.