I love Ven Diagrams. Like an infinitely flexible visual simile, they can, at a glance, give you a decent idea about how 2 separate factors inform a 3rd. Simple and suggestive, like an idiot with sex on his mind, drawing both their strength and weakness from their precise imprecision.
When I first began listening to the self-titled debut EP from this Norwich 4 piece one of these Ven diagram began to form itself in my mind. Starting with 2 distinct circles, one labelled Monuments and the other labelled Black Tongue. Then the 2 circles began to merge leaving a perfect cats eye ellipse in the middle, with the word Deities inscribing itself in this central reservation.
Now this may seem a lazy and trite way of defining Music, but despite repeated listens, the image refuses to leave my mind. Deities play a form a sludgy Tech, which embeds itself in the mind by its cunning and forthright use of low tempos. Indeed, it is this manipulative and weighty control of pacing that solicits a burgeoning brutality from the Techish forms that they employ.
It is fascinating to watch and listen to the developmental progression of Tech Metal. Deities are part of a new wave of young bands for whom Tech is a platform from which they can tilt. Modulating its strictures and incorporating characteristics from other genres to stealthily and subtly broaden the archetype before separating off their own unique sound from the main body of tacitly accepted genres.
There is a real dank, sewer filling filth encrusted edge to the vocals of Daniel Earl, yet his balance of slice and punch is so measured that even through his heavily guttural delivery he maintains impressive diction. Giving one the rare pleasure of enjoying both dirty vocals and lyrical content simultaneously. A joy usually only achieved with the availability of a lyric sheet and an afternoons worth of patience.
Rhythmically they employ just enough originally it infuse their use of the duo-tonal Tech clichés with the necessary propulsive life. They even dismantle the groove on a couple of occasions into its bluesy, inebriated components just to hint that they know far more than they initially let on.
Just as Black Tongue managed to subvert my expectations about their down-tempo dirges with a dynamic and memorable approach ti riff-making, Deities and Dave Klussmann (guitar) in particular, have done the same. By combining a buttock clenching tone with a willingness to open out the phrase and employ multiple delays, he holds the attention with a sense of melody which is as full of understanding as it is aggression.
His riffs hold momentum like a pendulum, swinging with perpetual threat through their various facets of character. It is this attribute of lead swinging intent that allows the bass to caress its way around the riffs in a method that is as staccato as it is relaxed, fulfilling its bridging unit role in a more than adequate fashion. It is this successful interplay between guitar and bass that on occasion makes them sound like a more methodical and prosaic Xerath, adhering groove to melody with their sedulous relationship.
Now I will admit that during my first few listens to this EP, even though their sound left an immediate and distinct impression and the riffs were engaging and fun, it took a while for the structure of the songs to slot themselves into my brain. Maybe I was distracted, maybe I'm just old and am not the furiously synaptic comprehension machine that I once was, or perhaps Deities could usher in a little more variety into their sonic palate; even if only to provide the middle aged amongst us with some sonic landmarks, to indicate our position on the musical map.
But having said that I immensely enjoyed this EP. It wormed its way into my cerebral cortex and has set up a tiny camp all of its own. Away and clear from my limiting first impression, free from protractors, compasses, Ven diagrams and Pie Charts. Where it sits, developing its own methods of self-expression.
Deities is available now from their Bandcamp site on a pay-what-you-want basis.
– John Whitmore