Sometimes (i.e. enough for me to not feel utterly guilty for mentioning it in this review) I go to the gym. I’m not a particularly built individual, but I have dreams. During cardio (pretty much the only part of a workout that I’m moderately good at), I take immense pleasure in people watching. In any gym, there are your various stereotypes: The ripped dude who only uses weight machines that allow him to stare at himself, or the cross-fit peeps who are utterly satisfied with their own ascendance into the pantheon of “greatest and healthiest humans that have ever lived” and don’t mind telling you about it. There’s also overly enthusiastic bike lady, guy who sits on a weight bench texting for half an hour, and my personal favorite, guy who walks around randomly pointing and yelling greetings at people while spending maybe ten minutes actually exercising. Despite the above group of goofballs, the one individual that actually intimidates and motivates me is the silent, uber-serious heavy hitter. You know of whom I speak: The man or woman who walks straight to the machine they want, hits it incredibly hard with perfect form, moves to the next phase of their workout and does it again. And again. And again. They don’t look at anyone or interact with their surroundings at all, just grind until the job is done. If one were to compare Australia’s brutalizing death metal juggernaut Depravity to any of the above, it would most certainly be they in the final category. Lean, mean, direct, focused, and concise.
Just the way I like it.
Evil Upheaval is Depravity’s debut record, but you wouldn’t know it on first listen. Or, honestly, on any listen. From start to finish, it’s a relentless, eviscerating death metal attack from every angle that is as airtight as debut records get. Much of this assurance can be attributed to some premium, high-octane death metal performances, most notably in the fantastic drumming of Louis Rando (of The Furor and Impiety fame). But only mentioning his individual contribution would sell the stellar work of this collective of musicians short. This is clearly an album possessed of a uniform vision, with songwriting that feels fully bought into and aggressively realized. This cohesiveness leads to some fantastic tracks, which mix brutal, old school, and technical death metal tropes into a seething pit of riff-based horror.
The first such salvo, the aptly titled opening track “Manic Onslaught”, hits some Morbid Angel and Suffocation notes as it bludgeons and pummels its way through riff after punishing riff. The vocal attack of Jamie Kay is the perfect complement to Lynton Cessford and Jarrod Curly’s impeccable guitar work, which coils its way around Rando’s massive rhythm section with crushing intensity. Subsequent track “Insanity Reality” is no less relentless, and even faster in tempo than the album’s scorching opener. Much of this is thanks to Rando’s blasting drum work, which rips and tears ahead with blistering speed and precision without once losing its impressive amount of sonic heft. Two tracks in, it becomes clear that the general vibe of the production work on this record is maniacally heavy. But the mix here allows each instrument to have its day in the sun with general clarity without once sacrificing the soaked-in-wet-cement sonic heaviness this album provides. It’s an adequate style of production for this type of death metal. “Repugnant” continues down this trajectory of mayhem, while both it and “The Great Divide” display hints of the band’s more ominous, atmospheric side. The album’s final track, “Vile Defloration”, takes all of the elements contained in the record’s previous tracks and synthesizes them into an utterly epic finale that hints at the greatness to come as this band develops and matures its sound. It’s a near-perfect ending to a record that could be measured on the Richter scale given its audio magnitude.
There are few things to complain about here for death metal fans. Depravity come out swinging on their debut record, and hit their fair share of home runs in the process. While the tracks can potentially bleed together due to their similarly relentless nature, cracking them open for examination finds a veritable wealth of competent riff writing that heralds great things to come for this band. If you like your death metal to blast by you like it’s on a mission from Satan, look no further than Evil Upheaval. Another absolute banger coming out of the Transcending Obscurity camp, and one of the more thoroughly enjoyable death metal listens I’ve had in a good while.
Evil Upheaval is available for streaming on Bandcamp, and will be available in physical formats April 30th through Transcending Obscurity Records.