"Disposal of the Dead / Dharmata" is the 5th full-length studio album by German death metal act Defeated Sanity. The album was released through Willowtip Records in July 2016. While it is considered a full-length studio album, "Disposal of the Dead / Dharmata" is actually more like two EP releases compiled into one full-length album release. The first part of the album (track 1 - 6), which is titled "Disposal of the Dead", features Konstantin Lühring on vocals (who also sang on the band´s 4th full-length studio album "Passages into Deformity (2013)", but who left Defeated Sanity after recording his parts for this project), while the second part of the album (track 7 - 11), which is titled "Dharmata", features Max Phelps (Cynic, Death DTA, Exist) on vocals. The two parts of the album were recorded at two seperate sessions.
And let me establish right away, that it´s not only the two vocalists who sound vastly different (Konstantin Lühring deliveres unintelligible brutal growling, while Max Phelps has a more snarling aggressive delivery, not far removed from Chuck Schuldiner´s (Death, Control Denied) vocal style), it´s certainly also in the instrumental department, that the music on the two parts of the album is very different sounding.
The first part of the album features the band´s "regular" brutal and technically well played death metal style. It´s downtuned, dark, and very brutal. The sound production is quite original with a distinct sounding guitar tone, and a relatively odd drum sound. Especially the latter is to my ears a bit of an issue. The snare drum features quite an annoying sound, which makes it almost impossible not to focus on it, and I´m having a hard time getting a complete listening experince, when the snare drum sounds so detached from the rest of the instruments. The growling vocals aren´t that interesting either. Very deep, low in the mix, and completely unintelligible. Add to that material that aren´t particularly original sounding, and the "Disposal of the Dead" part of the album comes off as decent but relatively standard brutal technnical death metal. The only track on that part of the album which stands out a bit is the heavy "The Bell".
The second part of the album as mentioned features a completely different sound. It sees Defeated Sanity playing an early- to mid 90s influenced technical/progressive death metal style. Artists like Death, Atheist, Cynic, and Sadist come to mind at various points during the "Dharmata" part of the album. Atmospheric jazzy parts, razor sharp technical death/thrash riffs, advanced guitar solos, fusion influenced rhythms, and an aggressive snarling vocalist in front. The material is adventurous, intriguing, and powerful. Defeated Sanity definitely proves to be more than capable of playing this style of music, and while I´m trying to avoid sounding too disrespectful, I can´t help wonder why they spend their time playing what they do on the "Disposal of the Dead" part of the album, when they can deliver what they do on the "Dharmata" part of the album in such a convincing manner. This is high quality technical/progressive death metal and it´s definitely recommended to fans of the above mentioned references. The sound production is very different sounding from the "Disposal of the Dead" part of the album, and suits the technical/progressive material perfectly.
Upon conclusion "Disposal of the Dead / Dharmata" is quite an interesting release by Defeated Sanity, especially when taking into consideration that both parts of the album were recorded by the same lineup (except on the lead vocalist spot), although it feels more like a split release, featuring two completely different artists. That´s quite the achievement in my book and proves beyond any doubt the high level compositional skill of the band. On the other hand it doesn´t tell us much about who they are as an artist or where they are heading in the future. As an album "Disposal of the Dead / Dharmata" is obviously also stylistic inconsistent and therefore has a very different flow than most full-length releases. It´s up for discussion if that´s a good or a bad thing. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.