Tech Death Thursday: Virulent Depravity
Virulent Depravity has an album due out soon, and you need to know about it. Spoiler: it’s really fast.
- Aethere has a new album on the way via Tragic Hero Records, due out on April 28th. Check out “Sleep” in the meantime; it might get a little breakdowny for some, but it’s hard to argue with those grooves.
- Hideous Divinity has a devastating new tune out. Look for the full album on April 28th if you’re into archetypal Italian death metal.
- The new Gorod EP is shaping up to be pretty sweet (and rather silly). Check out the lyric video for “Being A Jerk” and catch them on their European tour this April with Havok, Exmortus, and Warbringer.
- I’m really hoping the new Inferi song is the standard for their new album, because it’s going to surpass Path of Apotheosis in every way if it is. Give it a listen right here.
As much as I try to find bands that break the confines of the genre for this column, it’s hard to pass up a more traditional band that just does everything really well. That was what initially drew me to Virulent Depravity; it was something I had heard before, but it was written and executed so well I couldn’t write it off. I had high expectations of this album; now that I’ve heard the full thing, it’s clear that I didn’t set them high enough. Fruit of the Poisoned Tree delivered everything I wanted, but with some twists that I didn’t see coming.
From a high-level standpoint, Fruit of the Poisoned Tree doesn’t really offer anything new. It follows the blueprints of bands like Spawn of Possession and The Faceless, built on a foundation of sinister harmonized riffing that blazes by at terminal velocity. Even when the music slows down (as per “Desecrating Eden” below), it progresses much the same path as the aforementioned bands, particularly the former’s Incurso. I could honestly spend the entire article drawing direct parallels between the two albums, but I think you get the picture.
It’s when you get down to the smaller details that the music really starts to come into its own. While Poisoned Tree is constructed around the same structure as its forebears, there are a lot of subtler stylistic differences that make it feel unique. For one, while the start and endpoints of a given riff might be obvious, the path it takes between those points is rarely predictable. The melodies and arpeggios wind their way around the scale rather than plowing straight through it, giving them an odd angular feeling. There’s a sort of perverted elegance to it, like looking at a familiar but twisted piece of architecture; it’s recognizable, but uncomfortable. Furthermore, the way these riffs are executed has some interesting quirks to it as well. Taps and sweeps aren’t limited to guitar solos, and their implementation into the meat of the song means that a single melody can span the breadth of the fretboard even within a single measure. It’s a small thing, but the simple uncertainty of whether the song is going to go high or low is enough to demand the listener’s constant attention.
Despite the overall intense speed of the album, the band does a good job of both pacing and setting some atmosphere. Short breaks are surprisingly frequent and often accompanied by a slow, harmonized lead that drives home the alien feeling. The few extended slow segments are used to set up massive headbanger riffs and complex rhythmic patterns (as well as a brilliant solo on “Only Human”). It’s easy for bands like this to let speed be their primary selling point, but Virulent Depravity keep it varied and interesting, never settling on a single formula.
Fruit of the Poisoned Tree might not be perfect, but it does far more things right than otherwise. Sure, the production is super inorganic, but it works in favor of the music here. The bass could stand to be a bit louder, but you can hear it doing a lot of cool stuff if you listen for it. Virulent Depravity wears their influences on their sleeves; the form and function of the music is familiar, but they fill a niche that has been largely left empty for the past few years (and even with those influences, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite like the main theme of “Beyond the Point of No Return”). With more and more hyper-tech bands playing strictly neoclassical music lately, Poisoned Tree instantly differentiates itself from the norm and is all the more memorable for it. Virulent Depravity have crafted a monster of an album that’s required listening for any fan of tech death.
Fruit of the Poisoned Tree is out on April 7th via The Artisan Era. You can follow Virulent Depravity on Facebook; stop by and tell them how much the Toilet loves them. They’ll know. That’s all for this week, and until next time,
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