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Album Review: DEPRAVITY – Evil Upheaval

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If you ever wanted to read the death metal equivalent of the injunction, "eat your vegetables," you should read Depravity's mission statement on their Bandcamp page:

Death metal was meant to be an assault on the senses but somewhere along the way bands started taking it easy, getting complacent.

Enter DEPRAVITY from Australia. They show us how it's to be done, to play devastating death metal without straying from the genre's roots. This is what MORBID ANGEL should've sounded like today. There's no going back or forth. This is it. This is the fiercest expression of death metal while remaining relevant.

Funny they decided to call out Morbid Angel, as the legendary band's latest album, Kingdoms Disdained sounds an awful lot like what Depravity wants to accomplish on this album. Sure, the production is different and there aren't as many gravity blasts, but the general point holds. On Evil Upheaval, Depravity plays death metal very much in the style of the late-1990s; one that eschewed the Morrisound crunch and the Sunlight HM-2 fuzz for a scorching, full-sounding punch. Think Nile, Hate Eternal, Vital Remains and Formulas Fatal to the Flesh-era Morbid Angel, and you'll get the idea.

The band plays this style exceptionally well and does so evenly through the entire record. However, I'd contend the strongest points reside at the album's molten core: "Despondency," "The Great Divide," and "Victimizer." Although "Insanity Reality" has a fun, catchy feel to it, the "sick, sick, SIIIIIICKKK" refrain on "Despondency" (I think that's what he's saying) sticks with you even more. This song also shows the band's dual death metal sensibility; don't be afraid to get technical, but make sure people can remember the riffs. Yeah, jaw-dropping sweep picking and fretboard traversing riffs make for cheap thrills.Still, you want a song to be worth replaying for more reasons than that.

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Even without a lyric sheet, you can tell that "The Great Divide" is the lyrical centerpiece of the album. It's a hellish sermon about humanity's cruelty and hatred for itself. The song ultimately travels through several moods and tempos before discarding the listener. The song shows the band at the height of it's still fresh songwriting potential, along with all the well-executed flair of the instrumentation. One can also appreciate how the band used some compression and noise-gating on the guitars, but not to regrettable djent levels. This makes the palm-muted sections crisp and clear, yet in a way that STILL SOUNDS LIKE A GUITAR PLAYING. Imagine that.

"Victimizer" is totally insane. The dual lighting storm assault of the drums and guitars harness what so many tech-death bands wank their way into missing. The technicality in death metal is supposed to evoke something: war, chaos, dismemberment, slaughter, Armageddon, etc. It's not about impressing people. It's about shoving their naive thoughts about life and the world into the infernal flames of the truth.

For death metal fans who like their truth wrapped in tastefully applied blasting, growling and shredding, Evil Upheaval makes for a lucid dive into the underworld.

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Score: 8/10

Favorite Songs: "Despondency," "The Great Divide," and "Victimizer." Buy Evil Upheaval now from Transcending Obscurity Records.

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