The Defaced - Karma in Black
Scarlet Records
Modern Melodic Death Metal
10 songs (39:48)
Release year: 2003
Scarlet Records
Reviewed by Keegan

Former Soilwork drummer Henry Ranta’s announcement of his departure from the band to continue other projects such as The Defaced helped to shed some light on a band that hadn’t yet been able to find it’s niche. The band's second album, Karma in Black does a good job of explaining Ranta's decision for him.

Fumes From the Swamp sets the tone for the rest of the album, with a grinding Meshuggah-esque guitar riff and excellent double bass work from former Soilwork drummer. This song’s solo is very reminiscent of more recent Arch Enemy, though it’s not as technical as the Amotts' playing. The second track, Once in Between is quite heavy with a melodic solo and catchy chorus that leaves the words “Determined to fail” in my head long after the song is finished. Interestingly, the band ends the pummeling song with an acoustic outro, which serves as a buffer from the next headbanger, 10 Vs 9, which has a heavy, palm muted hardcore-influenced verse flowing into a heavy, but less rhythmic chorus.

Exit on Body Mass is where the album begins to diversify, with a nu-death-pop feel. While on it’s own the tack isn’t one of the better on the album, it’s a welcome change of pace from the previous three songs. Beneath My Swirl continues in the same vein as the previous track, but in more of a Fear Factory style. A Moment of Clarity takes a more aggressive approach, powered by a huge guitar riff. Following next is one of the heaviest tracks on the album, The Fading Suns. The vocals are more hardcore than before but the guitar assault provided by Klas Ideberg of Darkane and Mattias Svensson keep the song quite metal. The next song is not very memorable at all, as it relies heavily on the same open palm muted sound bands like Drowning Pool beat to death with a stick. The most standout song on the album is Forever Winding. This song is an acoustic ballad loaded with vocal harmonies. In the final minute however, it goes heavy with very aggressive vocal delivery. The album closes with its title track. Karma in Black is a slow melodic death metal song, one of the few with hardly any hardcore influence. Perhaps The Defaced should continue writing songs like the last two, as they’re the best on the album.

A drummer isn’t the only thing The Defaced share with Soilwork. Henrik Sjöwall’s voice is markedly similar to Speed Strid’s, though Sjöwall does have a great scream and can deliver clean vocals very convincingly but chooses to use death/hardcore vocals on the majority of the album. Ranta and Co. obviously weren’t looking to distance themselves from even further comparisons to Soilwork, as the melodic death metaller’s guitarist Peter Wichers plays several roles on Karma In Black: guest guitar, engineer, and co-producer; along with the bands guitarists. Though there are ten songs here, the album holds a meager 39:48 of music. Karma in Black is worth checking out for any melodic death metal fan. Although The Defaced don’t break any new ground here, they do succeed in creating a pretty crushing album.

Killing Songs :
Once in Between, A Moment of Clarity, Forever Winding, Karma in Black
Keegan quoted 82 / 100
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