DE PROFUNDIS – The Corruption Of Virtue

DE PROFUNDIS – The Corruption Of Virtue



De Profundis’ 5th installment, “The Blinding Light Of Faith”, had been a fantastic release, one of 2018 highlights for me, so I awaited the British blackened death metal quintet’s next album with baited breath at the edge of my reviewer’s seat. “The Corruption Of Virtue” released in October is a worthy follow up even if it doesn’t quite match its prededessor. Delivered with skill, creativity, wit and Craig Land’s terrifying if a bit monotonous growling-whispering highly legible and decipherable vocals and lyrics of De Profundis’ sworn eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man, to borrow Thomas Jefferson’s personal motto, it all, nevertheless, seems stripped down and reduced to irreducible bare essentials, which some may found a welcome approach but I feel it has taken toll on some of the inherent catchiness and creativity, which is to say that this album is more brutal, faster yet less melodic than its younger brother.

De Profundis (Latin: from the depths) is a 17 year old act which, having debuted with “Beyond Redemption”²⁰⁰⁷ followed by “A Bleak Reflection”²⁰¹⁰, arrested my attention with a physical slipcase promo of “The Emptiness Within”²⁰¹² an album I remember reviewing on the now defunct Norwegian webzine Imhotep by Roy Kristensen and I vaguely remember seeing and hearing a promise of a future melodic death metal giant, but, although I completely then missed out on “Kingdom Of the Blind”²⁰¹⁵, the subsequent “The Blinding Light Of Faith”²⁰¹⁸ floored me with its boundless creativity and melodic coherence bordering on progressive. Apparently my adoration of the album was so strongly impressed on my review that it even cought the gratitude of Transcending Obscurity Records’ owner Kunal Choksi, which is very important to mention seeing as I see the follow up a step down.

One would assume that with an almost unchanged line up of Craig Land (vocals), Soikot Ranjan Sengupta (2006-guitars), Paul Nazarkardeh (2013-guitars) and Tom Atherton (2014-drums) which had made “The Blinding Light Of Faith”, and then with gaining a Steve DiGiorgio-like bassist in Stephen Woodcock, the stage was set for even a better follow up. Meanwhile, while technically De Profundis is as impressive as ever, the hooks are fewer, especially on the inferior second half, and what happened to the thrash influences? So, there’s the undeniable brilliance and latter Death-like catchiness of “Relentless March”, with its “Gothic” Paradise Lost heavy slow melodic opening and the early 90s Cradle Of Filthian structure, where the world’s three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) reprise their role as “tyranny disguised as philanthropy”. There’s Woodcock’s bass talent on full display (thus my comparison to DiGiorgio) in the supercatchy but brutal and genuinely creepy “Embrace Dystopia” as “indoctrination convinces even sceptics to recognize the narrative” while “the mask slips to reveal the true face of tyranny behind the twin evils of church and state” with the album’s best riffs recalling the defunct Enforsaken. There’s the very progressive melodic death metal of the closing “The Sword Verses” doubling down on the hatred of Islam where De Profundis’ technical riffs strongly resemble “As The Palaces Burn” Lamb Of God and Trey Azagthoth (Morbid Angel) and Chuck Schuldiner (Death) fight for soloing primacy. There’s the highly technical, uniquely syncopated (Atherton!) “Weaponised Rape” with “Crystal Mountain” Death melodiscism and an excellent modern Monstrosity-like opener salvo of the short but sweet “Ritual Cannibalism”, which is about disdain for the Roman Catholic sacrament of the Eucharist based on the not so Biblical doctrine of transsubstantiation, followed by the slightly less catchy but bass-impressive “Sectarian Warfare” with hints of Trivium’s “Ascendancy” and old Immolation where, adequately, “the cross and the crescent are locked in perpetual war to gain domination over the entire world”, and, finally, the uniquely multimelodic (I counted 4 different ones) “Desecrating Innocence” which didn’t, nevertheless, grab me as much as “Embracing Dystopia” before it.

And then the melodic tendencies peter out (returning only on the closer) to the advantage of sheer technical brutality on the almost hookless “Religious Cancer” and “Scapegoat” (back to back to boot) where the, admittedly technically fantastic, guitar duo Sengupta and Nazarkardeh clearly seems to prefer exorbitant speed of almost blackthrash to former catchiness and, over the top brutality over the former memorability for which tendencies many will likely praise them but, to these ears, they are wasted opportunities (unless you consider Woodcock’s spectacular bass licks, especially in the latter track). It reminds me of my late brother’s comment on Depeche Mode’s “Precious” single: good but they can write tracks like that with fingers up their rear ends. It’s almost as though De Profundis were consciously and purposely moving away from the melodic death metal influences of “The Emptiness Within”, an album after which they moved into a more brutal progression.

So, as with Revocation and Testament, to mention just those two of which there are many, the talent and creativity is still there but it is hardly as wildly and as consistently unloaded as on the superior predecessor. “The Corruption Of Virtue” is very good but feels a little rushed, and, on that note, similarly comparatively a shorter album despite more tracks, sharing a similar impression I got with Biohazard’s “Mata Leão” after “State Of The World Address” or Slayer’s “Divine Intervention” after “Seasons In The Abyss”. Technically and sonically the same stuff but just doesn’t quite hit me as hard. Now, Biohazard had come back with a fantastic “New World Disorder” while Slayer never quite recovered to these ears so let’s hope for the former case for De Profundis on their next endeavor.

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