Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Technical depravity - 88%

BloodIronBeer, September 13th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, The Artisan Era

Right out of the gate, Fruit of the Poisoned Tree shows it's got something different to offer. The production is fairly unpolished - by the standards of their contemporaries - and the riffs are a twisted mass of large, dissonant jumps over the fretboard, somewhere between Anata and Demilich. It seldom relents in throwing unexpected turns at the listener, managing to be even more unpredictable than those bands.

These riffs are so busy. No, that's an understatement. These riffs are like a Rube Goldberg machine inside a room, on a rollercoast, on LSD. They snake ceaselessly, in the most erratic way, harmonies come and go in splashes of sonic color, rhythmic ideas are so nuanced that Stephen Hawking couldn't formulate appropriate time signatures for them.

The tonality is highly chromatic. If not for the fast pace, and death metal vocals, you'd really question is this music sad? Is it happy? It it laughing, crying or baffled? Listening to this music requires some effort. Casually listening to this is just not going to occur to most people. There's no doubt about it – if you don't like technical; I mean, highly, highly technical music, you will not enjoy this album.

One way this album reminds me of the great Anata is very long phrasing. That is to say, the riff/motif/idea is introduced and where it's customary to simply repeat a riff after a measure or two, Virulent Depravity instead presents you with a huge riff that lasts for many measures, sometimes not bothering to repeat it and opting instead to simply move on to a new idea, theme or take on the same riff. Other times, they might repeat it with some harmonic ideas done differently, or with totally different rhythms. Add to this odd meter, and ever-changing time signatures, bizarre, ugly tonal shifts and lead harmonies; what you end up with is a pretty remarkable album.

Crikey! we have a bass sighting. Yes, and it squirms around as whimsically as the guitar. It can more often than not be clearly heard. Sometimes it is playing a separate part, doing it's own thing, sometimes it follows the guitar, but it always adds it's beefy metallic tone. And this is the first album I've reviewed in a very long time where this was the case, at least where the bass this far forward in the music.

This album contains blast/skank beats, a very expressive, dynamic set of growls and I-just-stepped-on-a-Lego screams, and the requisite aggression of death metal, but man if you take that away, I would find it difficult to describe what the music really is. Defining the riffs themselves in any tangible way is kind of elusive, they're just so weird. Stylistically anything from funk, to neo-classical to jazz can be the real “core” of the feel of the riffs at any one moment (the neo-classical does come out in the solos). This is how you know a band is really putting forth the effort – after stripping away all the stuff layered over top, like complex harmonies and rhythms, you still can't nail down what it is. This is why I passed on the usual “This is technical death metal with a core of thrash”, or Swedish death metal, or whatever. Because I just can't adequately say. The riffs are just too abstract to pin down in that way. The closest bands to this are Spawn of Possession, Anata and Demilich – and that will do little I think to accurately portray their sound – but that is some damn good company to be in. There are also glimpses of early Cryptopsy, and even Spastic Ink.

The two things this band shares with Spawn of Possession are these evil leads and solos – astutely, the one time this band does kind of reel in the craziness is during a solo – and the use of harmonies dancing around over a lead riff. This is a good example of how you have to put effort into listening to this, as you're literally listening to multiple ideas at once, melodies on top of melodies, with different rhythmic subdivisions. This stuff is rare. This advanced level of musicality cannot be approached by most musicians.

I recently said The Zenith Passage's Solipsist displayed the most advanced technical faculty I've heard in a long time, and even though I might enjoy the song writing more on that album, this is undoubtedly more complex. It's dizzying.

The track Only Human has a somber jazz intro, moving into something Anata-like, with a set of dark, grotesque riffs, but still wondering into moments of consonant, melodic leads. It breaks in the midpoint to give way to an Animals as Leaders type of riff but without the disingenuous quality that band can have. The leads at times have this bitter-sweet feel over these torrential dark riffs and beastly drumming. There is an eerie outro, that again reminds me of Spawn of Possession. This is strangely, probably the most straightforward song on the album, and the only one with clear jazz elements.

Mechanical Defilement is my standout track; with these long, elaborate guitar lines that never seem to end, and just dance this chaotic dance in the most intense, enthralling way. It is just a mind-blowing display of guitar playing and clever, adept song writing.

I can't immediately identify any glaring flaws in this album. They've cleared every hurdle that a high-level technical/progressive death metal album needs. Legitimately technical: big check. Do something unique: check. No long, boring interludes: check. Spare me the masturbatory/esoteric lyrics: check. No muddy, garbage or overly sterile, synthetic production: check. Keep my interest throughout: check

If I were to be nit-picky - I would say the closing track Crushed by Futuristic Filth gets a little wanky and doesn't carry all the unique traits of the rest of the album through. And even though I love the insane technicality, the song writing and memorability, whether because of, or in spite of the technicality - is simply not as strong as the likes of Anata or Descravity.

I'm greatly impressed with this album – which like Zenith Passage's Solipsist, is a debut album, and again shows an astronomical level of musicianship. I'm running out of superlatives to throw at it now. No question, this album is not going to be most people's cup of tea, but if you like extremely technical or unique metal, I give this the highest recommendation.