Dysmorfectomy is a one-man brutal death metal project from Anthony Guern of Carhaix-Plouguer, France. His third album under the name, Disembodied Anomalies, was released this week.

Brutal death/slam metal is barely music, in the conventional sense. Its harmonic range is extraordinarily narrow, mainly consisting of low-end guitar and bass frequencies. The vocals are delivered in either a guttural gurgle like something very bad happening deep inside a bathroom drain, or a grunting squeal like an extremely large and very angry pig. In either case, the lyrics are totally indecipherable. The drums are mostly programmed, or recorded to sound that way.

Still, despite the built-in limitations of the genre, it’s possible to do this stuff very well, or very badly. When it’s done badly, it sounds like a truck in low gear with an angry bear at the wheel. It’s boring, and even though the albums frequently come in well short of the 30-minute mark (this isn’t a genre that lends itself to epic songwriting), they feel much longer. By contrast, when it’s done well, as it is on Disembodied Anomalies, it can be some of the most exciting music around. Like all the best metal, regardless of genre, it works on the listener’s limbic system; when these riffs kick in, the impulse to headbang, to pump one’s fist, is impossible to resist.

Dysmorfectomy‘s previous release, 2017’s Hypothermal Dissection, packed nine tracks and an instrumental intro into 30:06; Disembodied Anomalies actually shaves exactly one minute off that time. The general formula remains the same, though, right down to the track titles. The last album had songs called “Perversion of Corpses,” “Intestines Exposed,” and “Heap of Frozen Limbs”; the new one offers “Absorption of Corpses,” “Guttural Intestines,” and “Mass Dismemberment.” One track, “Internal Extraction,” features guest vocals from Simon Nédélec of another French death metal band, the Lump, but if you can tell the difference between his voice and Guern’s, you’re a better listener than I am.

The drum programming on Disembodied Anomalies is highly intricate, far beyond the relatively primitive rhythms of 1990s acts like Mortician or Comecon. The songs speed up and slow down, as Guern programs blast beats, chugging breakdowns, and almost anthemic headbanging sections, and the actual drum sounds he creates are crisp and assaultive, sounding almost organic at times but mostly close to Godflesh territory.

Almost every track follows a similar pattern. It begins with a high-speed, downtuned riff backed by machine-gun drumming; the vocals are an indecipherable pig-squealing roar. At some point, the music slows down for a moody, churning section like a bulldozer caught in mud, but a few seconds later the drums kick into high gear again and the rampage resumes. Before the end, there’s another slow passage, this time accented by a slightly different riff. Individual songs may feature unique flourishes, like a squealing guitar harmonic or a short drum break, but generally speaking, a Dysmorfectomy song does what you expect it to do. What sets Anthony Guern‘s music apart from the pack (and the world is neck-deep in brutal death metal bands, believe me) is the skill with which he assembles his compositions, while keeping things simple enough that the lizard brain still likes what it hears.

One other note: Disembodied Anomalies features cover art by Pedro Sena, aka Lordigan, one of the greatest artists working in metal right now. You can see many more of his album covers and other projects on his page, and the Bandcamp download of this album includes not only a large JPEG of the cover art, but a collage depicting the progress toward the final image, and a collection of rejected sketches. You can see all of those below.

Phil Freeman

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Stream/purchase Disembodied Anomalies on Bandcamp:

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