Review: Depravity ‘Grand Malevolence’

There seems to have been a plethora of great music coming out of the South Pacific this year, whether it be from Ulcerate, Internal Rot, Cauldron Black Ram or Writhing to name a few. Once again The Shaman has kindly asked me to pack my bags and take an audio journey south of the equator to check out the technical death metal madness from Australian bruisers Depravity. This is their new record Ground Malevolence which will be released on December 4th via the lovely chaps over at Transcending Obscurity Records, who’ve also had an utterly killer year releasing some great records that you should probably go check out!

Depravity 'Grand Malevolence'

Personally, technical death metal takes me back to the brilliance and mastery of bands like Suffocation, Atheist, Cynic and Gorguts, who would consistently blow my mind with their wonderful writing that was full of character and aggression, each album more exciting than the next. But, unfortunately I’m a bit of an old fart and the genre has moved on to a different sound. I can see the appeal, but to me the modern technical death metal can sometimes feel a little sterile. Don’t get me wrong there are some killer bands out there, but some releases left me a little flat. So, when I picked up this record to review it, I did so with a little trepidation. Was it going to be that sterile, overproduced guitar wankery that I struggled to get on with? Or was I going to get what I desired, a stupidly heavy barrage of well written technical wizadry with some fucking character?

My friends, I am pleased to say it’s the latter! From the instant I press play, Depravity eviscerate me with pure power. There’s no acoustic intro, or ambient sounds to ease you in, no, no! Instead, a cacophony of erratic riffs combined with some relentless drumming hit me with so much power it measures in g-force. I can only explain the power coming out of my stereo by describing it – imagine an industrial leaf blower being pointed at my tubby British stomach causing it to ripple intensely, Depravity replaced the leaf blower with a jet engine. IMAGINE the wobble (Enjoy). Alongside this power and madness is Jamie Kay, the groups vocalist, and his vocals on this record are apocalyptic. It’s mostly gutturals but he throws in the odd squeal and shriek to keep you on your toes. He sounds great.

The record plows on at a furious pace with song after song of sheer unbridled brutality…

The record plows on at a furious pace with song after song of sheer unbridled brutality. Tracks like Cantakerous Butcher and Hallucination Aflame are real highlights, they sound absolutely massive and are clear indicators of what the band do best. What’s great is how warm the record sounds. The production team have done a really good job, it’s really well executed and matches the brutality on display, rather than that cold, over produced, sterile sound some bands fall foul of in this genre. Also, quick shout out to Alex Tartsus for the killer artwork that adorns this record, it looks awesome.

My only concern with Ground Malevolence is that once you get two thirds of the way through, I did find myself thinking that Depravity could have done with changing up the sound, throwing in something a bit different to add variation, because on multiple listens, you do find yourself craving just a little ‘out of the box’ thinking . That said, the music on display is of high quality, Grand Malevolence is a really fun listen and Depravity should be proud of what they’ve put together, especially in such a bloated genre, so here here.

The Sleeping Shaman does not accept any liability from the frankly sickening images of this reviewers grossly tubby belly rippling in slow motion. Blame COVID and the invention of the chocolate biscuit.

Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Matt Alexander