The tomb of Melbourne, Australian death-thrashers Sewercide has yet to gather moss but the subterranean carnal remnants beneath the stone have split into three new beginnings, each stylistic choice likely a shard of disagreement among their former union. If there is any great preemptive reason to be excited about Gutless, Excarnate, and Vile Apparition it all comes off the back of Sewercide‘s ‘Immortalized In Suffering’, a modern day classic for its brutalized form of thrashing death metal. Excarnate offers a modern hardcore influenced ‘moshable’ sound while Gutless scours the darkest depths of brutal, gory death but neither of these projects are more than loose conceptual demo compared to the possessed third. Quickest to rise unto a professional release, and perhaps the most capable formation to result from the putrefaction of Sewercide, Vile Apparition comes from a clear place of old school brutal death metal worship.
Formed in 2017 between guitarist/vocalist Jamie Colic and drummer Ollie Balantyne the two would make a clear statement of superiority with the self-released, highly professional ‘Atrocious Captivity’ (2017) demo shortly after forming. It could not have been hard to find interested third and fourth parties as they’d record as a quartet for a split with Polish brutes Incinerator in 2018. I’m impressed but not entirely surprised that Vile Apparition could keep their momentum going, a throwback brutal death project is a hard sell for the greater death metal fandom of today; Though there are plenty of us who checked out of brutality after 2008 or so, many still appreciate the ’93-’05 underground brutal death renaissance. With that perspective in mind, I’d consider ‘Depravity Ordained’ a death metal record influenced by, but not imitating ‘old school’ brutal death metal. They haven’t gone ragged, pitch-shifted gore-death demo tape with their sound in fact you’ll hear a solid early Cryptopsy-esque style on ‘Atrocious Captivity’, but with this debut Vile Apparition go harder and think outside of the box the escape the congested halls of standardized brutal death metal.
They say all roads to brutality flow from Suffocation‘s now-drying slug trail but, in terms of Vile Apparition‘s sound, contributions from Cryptopsy, early Deeds of Flesh, and Pyrexia appear equally (if not more) important. Without fully speaking to the stylistic aspects of performance, the production here is meticulous in its invocation of NYDM spawned brutality with the exception of what I’d call a post-millennium snare hit. ‘Depravity Ordained’ is mixed (by Dan Lowndes at Resonance Sound Studio) in a such a way that it its comparatively under-emphasized bass frequencies appear more in line with a group like Gorelust circa 1995 rather than any post-Deeds of Flesh brutal death band; It lands somewhere between ‘Path of the Weakening’ and ‘Blasphemy Made Flesh’ both sonically and stylistically, though I’d also point to sections that are reminiscent of early Malignancy with the dynamic range of Exmortem. Though I am only speaking to personal taste at any given time, brutal death metal is best when the drumming is structure and force rather than repetitive spectacle; This is the mark of a thoughtful artist and I’d say Vile Apparition is all the more valuable for fully employing the skills of Ollie Balantyne, he is a fine drummer that always appears cognizant of ‘overdoing it’ in just the right way.
I do emphatically believe that, in most cases, overt technicality was/is a major gimmick guilty of cheapening the rotten, adrenaline-squirting rage that brutal death metal brings to the greater death metal forum. That isn’t to say that I prefer the caveman chug and mosh side of the sub-genre but either extreme appear as meaningless reductions of skill beneath the grasp of any musical ‘feeling’. Here mankind’s futilist mania-enraged mental dissolution is communicated with dynamic pace while forgoing the use of gimmickry such as sampled movie clips, fidgety solos, or comically squishy gore noises. It is a purists hammering of a style long disrespected, a rarity in the hands of capable musicians with solid taste and vision. The joy of analyzing a debut comes with seeing the potential of where the project might go over time but I’m generally satisfied with where Vile Apparition are. What greater dynamic took bands like Broken Hope and Skinless over two decades to grasp it seems this Australian quartet has right out of the gate. ‘Depravity Ordained’ might be a small hit of nostalgia for some folks keen on the brutal ‘old school’ death metal spectrum but it’ll manifest as a good, solid no-frills death metal album for most. This debut comes with a moderately high recommendation from me with the slight caveat that it is a prime, exemplar entry into an already well-mastered field. For preview I’d go straight to “Aeon of Impalement” and the title track if you have nostalgia for ‘Sermon of Mockery’ and/or ‘Souls to Deny’, and then “Repulsive Desire” for a glimpse of Vile Apparition at their most misanthropic.
Accursed phantom’s misanthropy. 4.0/5.0
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