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What could have been... - 85%

androdion, July 7th, 2012

Everyone who knows their fair share of political history would know of the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia back in the early nineties into two very different countries with their own distinctive identities, those being Czech Republic and Slovakia. As much as there are differences at a cultural level these also exist at an artistic and stylistic level, being that performers from both of these countries have a distinctive approach from one another. And as metal bands can’t be dissociated or extirpated from this political and social context, it’s only fair to assume that performers from these two countries would sound very different. Whereas the Czech bands have become a synonym with experimentalism and wackiness, being mostly based on death metal and grindcore, what can be said about Slovakian metal bands? I mean, do you even know one Slovakian metal band? Alas this is a country which seems to have fallen into musical obscurity, despite having a seemingly proactive underground scene throughout the nineties.

And to be perfectly honest even I who consider myself as an explorer when it comes to finding out bands and scenes from small places, and more often than not from far-Eastern countries, find myself at shock with the amount of bands that exist in the Slovakian metal scene when compared to the ones I actually know! Apart from Amorbital, Lunatic Gods, Protest and the reviewed band in question, Depresy, I can say that my knowledge of this underground scene is virtually inexistent. Most of this stuff has only been available on tape and many bands have already broken up for over a decade now, so all things considered it’s actually understandable how obscure and more so hard to discover this country’s metal scene is. I intend to correct some of this by first and foremost introducing Depresy, and more specifically their demo ...And There Came The Tears With Christ. This is actually their third demo, with all of them being self-financed and self-released by a band with a clear will to thrive. The only reason this demo is available to the world nowadays is because it was included, as bonus tracks, on the CD edition of their 1998 EP. Gladly so because when it comes to underground death metal demos this is pretty much the cream of the crop. In fact I’d go as far as to say that this demo could’ve easily been the band’s debut album, so much is the quantity and quality of the material found here.

Starting with the title track, which serves as an atmospheric intro to the remaining body of material found here, we are treated with the band’s keyboard and melody infused death metal formula. The twiddling stroke of the keys brings about a dark brooding felling of being alone in a haunted forest, impatiently awaiting for the breaking dawn. Then the first riff of “Heresy, Shadowsnight” comes, brought along by the thundering drums and gruesome vocals. And yet the feel is one of solemn calm as the melodic leads fly away, lead on by the gothic sounding keyboards. This is still death metal though and you’ll find enough double bass and blast beats to drive your fury along. But unrelenting fury isn’t the essence of Depresy’s music, as instead of beating the listener to a pulp they marvelously juggle moments of aggression with beautiful melodic leads and envelop everything in a healthy dose of keyboards. This melodic sense of writing is carried forth by the following, “Magic Of Eternal Dreaming”, which seems to perpetuate this feeling even more with the continuance of the formula used in the previous song. You’ll find plenty of quality riffs here and there’s enough variation and tempo changes to avert any state of boredom or feeling of similarity, although once you get acquainted with the band’s sound you’ll immediately recognize it. This is one of the things that make me enjoy Depresy as much as I do, because despite being able to hear and pinpoint influences from bands like early Tiamat or Hypocrisy circa 1994 I can still say that this Slovakian collective achieved their own specific sound.

If you’ve enjoyed the first couple of songs then the rest will be just as good because there aren’t any weaker tracks to be found here, as the quality is surprisingly upheld during the 31 minutes in length of this demo. And the impressive fact is that not only the songs are of very high quality but also the riffs are pretty damn good, like the main riff of “Desire” which is a very hummable and enticing one that easily sticks into your head and makes way for a great guitar solo. “Kisses Of Suffering” is a slower number, a more mid-tempo song that relies solely on the power of the riffs and the soothingness of their melodies, as “Of The Nightfall Heaven's Crash (Opening Of Hells)” is probably the best song to be found here. It opens with a very melodic lead and an enticing riff that again brings to mind their influences, keeping you banging your head and holding your breath in suspense until the next melodic break appears. And when it does… just listen to the mid section with the fantastic use of keyboards over the intense rhythmic section, it’s just awesome. If I had to choose a song that would be indicative of the band’s sound then this would be a great example. It’s full of surprises and in every new twist it brings you closer into its esoteric realm of vampiric tales of the dark cold forest. The remaining songs are also pretty good, and as I said above the quality output throughout the demo barely fluctuates and is always kept on a high level.

The production on this demo is one of the best I’ve ever heard, and it resembles more that of a full-fledged album than of a demo tape. Everything can be heard with brilliant intensity, making the band’s delivery even more poignant and profound, and it always leaves me wondering what this could have been. More than a demo this should’ve been the band’s debut, which dating back to 1995 would make it a milestone in the Eastern bloc death metal scene. As it is, a demo tape which was thankfully reissued later on, it stands as a testament of fleeting praise in a country that seems to have more than meets the eye. Depresy have shown the world a very unique and original approach to death metal in the form of this recording, and no doubt that whoever listens to this will find it enjoyable enough to be a part of their collection. This is another one of those tiny bands that never made it, but for once I can say that it wasn’t buried under because it deserved. Alas it was and probably will continue to be uncovered and dust-filled because of how peculiar and strangely brilliant it is. And that in my book makes it worth hunting down. I recommend this to everyone who likes death metal with a good sense of atmosphere and melody, and beware that what you’ll find here might entice you as much as the glowing full moon over the Carpathian hills.