DEPRAVITY – Grand Malevolence

DEPRAVITY – Grand Malevolence

"Evil Upheaval" (2018) was one hell of a death metal album and and not just in a colloquial sense. It thundered through the scene of Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal, Immolation, Nile and ancient Death lovers heralding the arrival of a new sheriff in town, as flawed as the debut album was. Depravity, a Perth, Western Australian quintet comprised of two technical death metallers from the still active The Alchemont, Jamie Kay (vocals) and Lynton Cessford (guitars) as well as Jarrod Curley (guitars), Ansley Watkins (bass) and Louis Rando (drums), signaled the revolution with an independently released "Reign Of The Depraved" EP (2016) (interestingly, with the cover depicting a governmental body very similar to Donald John Trump’s with a distinct Michael Richard Pence look a like possessed by a demon) and then followed it by the aforementioned "Evil Upheaval" already on Transcending Obscurity Records. In my ET review of it (4.5/5) I asked you to pay attention to these guys and called them a band with "an Ulcerate-ing potential" to match the label’s own pitch "what Morbid Angel should (have) sound(ed) like today". Was I right and were they?

That the label was right in their description you can already find out from my Depravity’s debut album review but how MUCH it was and that I was right in my prediction you’re about to find out from this one. To make a long story short, Depravity has evolved into an almost matchless monster. Listen to "Invalid Majesty" and tell me which death metal act can sound this brutal, technical, fast yet undeniably catchy? It is as though the most extreme aspects of Morbid Angel’s "Covenant", Rebaelliun’s "Burn The Promised Land", Azarath’s "In Extremis", Behemoth’s "Demigod" and Immolation’s "Kingdom Of Conspiracy" were melded into one and that concrete mass poured into a basin of Monstrosity’s "Spiritual Apocalypse". In fact, go ahead and make this the blueprint for "Grand Malevolence" (so apt a title!), but Depravity goes further than total devastation for just under 50 minutes, for, in truth, who could take in a straight brutal death metal album for this long?

The following "Cantankerous Butcher" is an example of another approach to the songwriting: combining the brutal with a more distinctly melodic elements with just a slight release of the accelerator for a perfect blend, a slower unmistakably Hypocritical opening followed by a thrashy pick up which ushers in, in turn, a Monstrosity-Slayer interplay to be brutally cut down "Reign in Blood" style with so much technical tempo changes you have to hear it to believe it. This approach is more nuanced on the brilliant ominous and incredibly catchy "Castrate The Perpetrators", my favorite off of the first half of the disc, opened in a way Death’s Charles Michael Schuldiner wouldn’t scorn, then going God Forbidic similarly to the debut while using the opening riff for the chorus, more death-thrash back-and-forth, with an excellent conclusion (I dare you to play that riff AND at that same speed!) and ominous balladic outro recalling Sepultura’s "Stronger Than Hate"

If you thought you got this album after the first few tracks you’d be in for quite a surprise as Depravity gets Napalm Deathly as a prelude to an almost melodeathly chorus, then faster and faster and back to the extreme but far from Vanilla Ice (only those 40+ will get that allusion) even finding a better use for Trivium’s "Inception" riff than the originators as well as early Machine Headian breakdowns (The Coming Of The Hammering) while distinct Enslaved and Meshuggah as well as latter Death and either Anata or Martyr (Canada) rear their heads on "Hallucination Aflame".

It is at this point, two tracks before the end of the disc, that Depravity gets simply fantastic and for that reason both tracks get their own paragraph. Firstly, the thrashy beginning recalls God Forbid’s "The Lonely Dead" and I no longer have any doubts that Joey & Co. love "IV: Constitution Of Treason" although, of course, they drown it with a deathly sauce, then a simpler but far catchier verse gives way to a magnifiscent melodic chorus which made me think Behemoth’s "Zos Kia Cultus" and Krisiun’s "The Will To Potency" or, perhaps even Nevermore, but there is still plenty of technical fun as well as a distinct bass nod to Megadeth’s "Take No Prisoners" and, for this reason this perfect track (Epitome Of Extinction) is my favorite on this album. Secondly, comes the closer (Ghosts In The Void), entering like a relative of Testament’s "D.N.R." and then letting in a catchy Behemothian riff, both of which feels like it should have been the opener (the impression which fades away as the track progresses), but this is Depravity at its most progressive, where all the melodic and extreme come clashing together to end in a monumentally melodic way a’la Sepulchral Curse (label mates) which is SO metal I get chills every time I hear it.

"Grand Malevolence" isn’t perfect because Depravity isn’t, and, seeing as this merely their 2nd installment they can and should be forgiven for occasional loss of train of thought as in the least exciting "Barbaric Eternity" or the little underwhelming "Hallucination Aflame" or lesser intensity and creativity showcased in still very good first two tracks (Indulging Psychotic Thoughts, title track), although, I clearly see their vision borrowed from Eric Rutan (Hate Eternal): build a gradually intensifying ladder of tracks before eviscerating the listener, in this case, with "Invalid Majesty", and the effect is pulverizing because by that third track you will beg for some relief which they graciously provide. But they are quickly getting close to "Covenant" proficiency in execution and for that they deserve rightful recognition and accolades as "the next best thing in death metal".

I could go on some more about the advantages of this album. I could talk about the excellent section, the excellent guitarwork to make past, present and future Morbid Angel eat their hearts out (Invalid Majesty!) and Immolation’s Robert James Vigna speeding up on the next album just to stay competitive and Krisiun reconsider their downward spiral direction, about the fantastic production, presumably from Białystok’s Polish Herz Studio (Azarath, Behemoth, Vader), but time and space won’t allow it and, besides, I want you all to discover it all on your own. As for me, I officially have my 3rd spot for The Top 5 of 2020. Very highly recommendead.