Sound — 9
Some of this review is going to be more or less the same as the corresponding review for "Deprive"'s "bonus album," "Black Earth Child." (Including this paragraph.) When "Deprive" was released, it came with an entire second album as a surprise gift, called "Black Earth Child," which was probably just as well, since the main album had already been released ahead of time on SoundCloud. Both albums are still streaming from Disfiguring The Goddess' official SoundCloud, in fact.
Disfiguring The Goddess is the one-man slam death metal side project of electronic dance music producer Cameron Argon, aka Big Chocolate. In slam, there is only one rule: be brutal. And the core of Disfiguring The Goddess's sound is brutal. Guitars are downtuned as much as an entire octave, and the riffs blend into a thick, murky sludge with no hooks or memorable parts. The production shows tight editing and gating, with a clear, sterile digital tone. Some impurity in the sound would have done it some good, especially since the drums are programmed, but from the polyrhythms and guitar tunings, it's just part of a bigger move towards a djent-influenced sound.
"Deprive" takes that formula and spices it up with a palette of effects, samples, and production tricks one might expect from a dubstep producer. A good example is 1:28 into "The Pathway to Everlasting Nothingness." The song drops into a riff that I swear I've heard on at least three other DtG tracks, then, suddenly, kalimba. Then, a choir sample that sounds like the caterwauling convocation of the damned. Would anyone other than an actual producer have thought of that rhythm-matched ambience at the end of "Home of the Dollmaker" when they were writing it? Or whatever that... thing at the end of "Industrial Quarter" is? In EDM, the songwriter, arranger, and producer are usually the same person, and this is why that process works. "Deprive" is just the latest in a long line of experiments from DtG, but it's the most "experimental" yet.
Lyrics — 7
Cam Argon isn't a very dynamic vocalist, but he does what he does, which is basically a monotone death growl all the way through the album. There are some higher screams here and there, but they're brief. He has really good technique, but never switches it up at all. The vocals in DtG are just another instrument, and like the guitars, bass and drums, they only have two modes: "slam" and "AAARRGGGHHHHHH."
Disfiguring The Goddess does, in fact, have lyrics, something I seriously didn't know until the fact-checking part of this review. I thought Cam just growled gibberish in a way that loosely resembled human speech, and gave the songs vague, abstract titles just to tell them apart, which would still be awesome. What does "death's head" even look like, and how can you make a mask out of it? Anyway, there *are* lyrics, but the good news is that they're just as cryptically brutal as the titles.
While some death metal bands have turned to stories of summoning abstract, cosmic horrors (or just plagiarizing HP Lovecraft) to stay fresh while everyone else talks about sticking their junk in rotten corpses, the lyrics of "Deprive" sound like one of those cosmic horrors wrote them. Who knows if they actually mean anything, but stream-of-consciousness death metal isn't something many bands do, probably because it's hard to do without just looking stupid. Take a look at this passage from "The Pathway to Everlasting Nothingness": "Sand and night for as long as physically present. A creator clearly puts a pawn into his tomb. Hold your fate for me. Recontract a swarming crown of improvection." Or the title track: "Skeleton of the great tree. Faces no rules. Set tide time. Wretched the fall. All of you step foot. And die. All." The lyrics set a tone, sculpting a backdrop in a way that conventional lyrics can't, and somehow, they still manage to tell a story. Sort of.
Overall Impression — 8
"Deprive" breaks away from all the other turn-off-your-brain-and-mosh slam out there by augmenting the super-low guitars with effects, and in the process, does something to stand out. It reminds me of the opening of Morbid Angel's classic album "Gateways to Annihilation"; the transition from the creepy samples of "Kawazu" to the stupefyingly heavy intro of "Summoning Redemption." It's so f--ked up that it shoots right through being awesome, and just becomes ridiculous again. And in slam, a subgenre that's basically nothing but the intro of "Summoning Redemption" playing over and over forever, Argon has managed to do that again.