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England's De Profundis is one of the fresher rainbow orchids of cosmic death budding from the extreme progressive metal ideology. The band had started their travels as a doom metal project but colored up the genetic code somewhere down the road, morphing into a progressive creature that, at least based on "The Emptiness Within," implements gratuitous amounts of black metal influence and a cluster of progressive landscapes, such as Arran Mcsporran's fretless bass work and off-kilter musical sequences. De Profundis provides close to an hour of perplexing, dynamic bombs which beam from the extreme nexus of De Profundis' blueprint to Cynic-esque alchemy and musical remnants of other philosophers like Death and Akercocke, encapsulating a group that has no problems justifying songs that usually chalk up six minutes or so of running time.
"The Emptiness Within" can't be pigeonholed into a specific genre, although what De Profundis does here is technically extreme metal cooked up with progressive elements, hence the elaborate equation resulting in what we in the Genre Discovery Department call "extreme progressive metal." Most of the riffs De Profundis churns out sound like standard black metal fare, throwing in some melodic death kinks and other trades and tricks caressing the dimensions of Death's "Symbolic" album and other similar records. The percussion is, well, extreme; lots of fast, punishing patterns and blast beats. Arran Mcsporran's bass work has a surprisingly integral function within the record, as he can be heard plucking away in odd rhythms throughout the entire journey.
Now that I see myself spelling out how the bulk of the album sounds, I guess it doesn't appear too progressive on paper, but it is, nonchalantly, in fact. The faction frequently throws around extended verses of clean interludes and snazzy instrumental jams, sometimes using keyboards and synthesizers which have varying roles in the comprehensive system. The instrumental "Parallel Existence" coats itself in what seems like a spiritual sibling to Cynic's "Textures" before rampaging into the epic tendrils of De Profundis' blackened processes; it's a wonderful representation of their sound. "Delirium" and "Unbroken (A Morbid Embrace)" showcase just how strong of songwriters the gentlemen of De Profundis are at their most versatile and dexterous.
The vocals are typical growls and shrieks of the extreme metal variety with the occasional clean section, largely rendered obsolete by the sensational collective instrumentation, and I find myself seeing them as they are: just sort of topical and uneventful. Other than the throat skills, "The Emptiness Within" is a technical feat of dazzling musicianship by a band that loves being bold and courageous. However, De Profundis is able to balance out their ambitions with relevant stuffing, never coming off as bloated or inflating song lengths for the sole purpose of appearing intellectual or technical. With "The Emptiness Within," these things come habitually, and that's one of many reasons why De Profundis and their third album bring home the bacon.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
The third release, and second full-length, from London’s progressive black/doom hybrid De Profundis is a rather impressive beast, managing to develop their extreme form of metal together into a cohesive, tightly-controlled unit that is far more memorable than the sum of its parts.
After the ambient noise intro of ‘From the Depths,’ the album kicks into fine gear with ‘Delirium,’ utilizing some wicked time-signatures, introspective and often-times outright melodic guitar-work and a start-and-stop pace in regards to blast-beats under the entire song to offer a nice highlight, it’s lengthy piece offering a healthy backbone to keep everything moving along as the song winds its way through. Second track ‘Silent Gods’ is another winner, offering more traditional Black Metal-esque blasting during its rousing opening before it kick-starts a series of frenzied riffing, intricate bass work and some of the records more furious vocals, which are carried over to ‘This Wretched Plague’ in wholesale, offering three extremely great tracks to start off. Even first single ‘Twisted Landscapes’ carries some nice momentum forward, with some extended interludes offering some fine guitar-work and up-tempo drumming, carried along by a wave of ebb-and-flow backing vocals that create an undeniable atmosphere within the song, plus as it’s the first single the riffing is quite memorable and offers the few hints of melody found within their sound.
The second half of the album does lag somewhat, still containing quality material but definitely not up to the standard of the first half’s tracks. ‘Release’ is the album’s first slightly disappointing track, spending far too much time in a middling section than in more familiar areas explored by the band, despite a ripping guitar solo and a frenzied final half to try to gather some energy back lost earlier, but it’s still a bit too long for its own good. More traditional is ‘Dead Inside,’ with its energized pace, thrashing tempo and pounding, wall-of-sound drums that come off far more vicious than anything else on the record, only this time the introspective moments work which thankfully isn’t that often. Instrumental ‘Parallel Existence’ is the major contributing factor here to this one coming down some, with an intro far more introspective and melody to mesh with the extreme stuff offered elsewhere and feels better suited to the end of the album than elsewhere. Album-ender ‘Unbroken’ is another weaker track, sounding good but not really distinguishing itself from the others all that much.
There’s one growing trend in the record that quickly becomes apparent, and that’s the band’s off-kilter approach to traditional Black Metal. This isn’t the sort of music that appears to be imitating what Norway produced in the early 90s, instead offering extreme Progressive Metal with Black Metal-ish vocals, creating essential a rather unique and recognizable sound but one that isn’t all that traditional, whereas the band might be more at home with fans of a band like Opeth in the early part of the decade than those of a group like Mayhem or Marduk. This isn’t a knock on the band at all, but merely a bit of a cautionary word of warning that those expecting straight old-school Black Metal might be somewhat disappointed here.
I am glad to say, that this is one of those, sadly quite rare, occasions when I feel an urge to thank a label for sending me a promo, and helping me finding another good band. So thank you, Kolony Records! The band in question is De Profundis, who hail from London, England. Their craft is dark, technical yet melodic death metal, and 'The Emptiness Within' is their third full length album to date.
I haven't been able to find a very many interesting bands in technical genres, to tell the truth. Too often it is about technicality over compositions, so it all feels just superficial. Thankfully this is not the case with De Profundis. It does not sound at all like this album was empty. Or soulless, or typical, or boring. No way! These fellows have carved their own niche and can comfortably explore its vast boundaries, which probably have yet to be found.
The intro sounds so typically British, that I was expecting for some Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride or Anathema style material, as I hadn't read the biography sheet which tags the band as extreme progressive metallers. 'Delirium' proved my expectations wrong, even though it has familiar British melodics on it. Technical flairs make De Profundis a very different beast, though. More peculiar rhythms and compositions pull the song into various directions, but it never disperses into too obscure or totally senseless rendering. I feel there is something similar with this and Russian daredevils Hieronymus Bosch. Both bands can go many ways within a song, but it always beautifully holds together, no matter if they suddenly introduce acoustics or whatever they have in mind. Some bits lifted from the likes of melodic death metal, especially Dark Tranquillity's 'The Gallery' (1995) style with classical music elegance. For example, the closing riff on the album sounds very much like a tribute to Swedish legends and to that album. Melancholiness is a big part of the band's state of mind, but so is shackled, delicate anger.
'Silent Gods' owes quite a bit to Death's technical era (e.g. 'Symbolic' ). Generally, a fretless bass is utilized on this album, and it takes a big, quite trippy, role everywhere. Varying and able drumming is also an extremely important factor in the band's sound. The rhythm section isn't only doing rhythms, but are vital fragments to the whole. They are not technical just to make it sound eccentric, but because of coherence. Mainly the pace of the music is somewhere between mid-paced and faster, with some occasional blasting. Grunting and growling vocals are quite varying, too, with some more shrieking ones layered to give this demonic effect. Some clean vocals are heard, with low and wretched tone, not far from Garm of Ulver. Guitar solos are fantastic, as they are truly composed and not just burst out. There are synthesizers utilized sometimes, but just to back up melodically, or atmosphere-wise. The music of De Profundis is multi-layered. It is still coherent and not labyrinthine in a negative way. At times, it can be very clear, sometimes more murky. Whatever mood is preferred. 'Release' contains a jazzy ending, which is about the sole odd compositional decision I can find here. 'Parallel Existence' sounds surprisingly calming, before entering harsher realms. Here the band show the power of instrumental music. It's rather purposeless to point out, that there is a lot to hear and discover on 'The Emptiness Within'.
Instruments are nicely balanced between in the mix. The soundscape exhales and pulsates, sending big amounts of aural information all the time. It sounds timeless, as it harks back to the early 1990's, but still has the other foot in modern times. The cover artwork reminds of older Travis Smith creations. The lyrical themes can be seen on it, as they circle around human weaknesses, be it alcohol, religions, madness or other illnesses. Stylish writings show, that they speak in their mother tongue.
It's not often, when a technical metal release is as catchy as this, or as colourfully created and played, or simply put; so inviting. If melodic death metal and melancholic English stuff is what you enjoy, I think you can't go wrong with 'The Emptiness Within'.
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com)
This has taken some time to write but I assure you it will be worth it. Rising from the deep underground of the UK extreme metal scene, Londoners De Profundis on album three "The Emptiness Within" have continued what "A Bleak Reflection" began and released a commendably solid slice of technically proficient, prog-death-doom metal quite unlike anything else you will hear this year.
Formed around a complex pattern of intertwining riffs from guitarists Roman Subbotin and Soikot Sengupta, songs like "Delirium" and "This Wretched Plague" pack a staggering amount into their respective 7 and 5 minutes that you would bet 10 minutes were being topped by each. Craig Land's vocals remind me in essence of Jason Mendonca's from the sadly deceased Akercocke, whereby in a song like "Silent Gods" he will veer from deathly grunts, deep cleans and cursed shrieks with commendable ability in each, though I hesitate to add not with the demonic terror of Mendonca in his day. The pace of each song averages a tempo which most would define as quick but don't come expecting a continual barrage of blastbeats oh no, as De Profundis make a sound attempt to rival Opeth when it comes to the fluidity of their songs, knocking on the doors of Symbolic/ITP-era Death and perhaps even Confessor along the way for their knack of altering the tempo and mood of a song with unexpected variance. The Death similarity is useful to make clear how distinctive De Profundis’ riffing sounds for the standard templates of DM are rarely adhered to here, much as Chuck Schuldiner made a career of limitless creativity in finding a sound and tone that was recognisably his.
To De Profundis' loss it is arguable that a notable portion of their potential DM and BM fanbase could well find the funk that emanates from the bass of Arran McSporran throughout too great a difference to the low-end rumbles they are acquainted with to handle, but given repeated listens the fruits on offer here begin to make sense. At times De Profundis cram in more than might be deemed necessary for the sake of potent songwriting but this, again, is a really strong exercise in challenging yet masterfully conceived metal - recommended for all who like to hear a band branch out from the well-trodden norm.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net