Existing at the intersection of brutality and technicality, Australia’s Depravity are here to bludgeon and dazzle in equal measure on their magnificent debut. However, it’s a keen songwriting intelligence, along with a fairly significant dose of erratic melody, that elevates Evil Upheaval. Australia and death metal are a match made in the Upside Down, but what’s most surprising about Perth-based act Depravity is the US-influence in their sound. With a mix of New York (Suffocation, Immolation, and Incantation), Florida (Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal), South Carolina (Nile), and Texas (Devourment), their style spans a wide spectrum without sounding too disparate or haphazard.
Indeed, if Depravity were to guest host an episode of Sesame Street, the word of the day would be “engaging” or “absorbing”, both of which are often antonyms to most modern-sounding death metal that often sounds detached and disengaged in its desire to bombard the listener. That’s far from the problem on Evil Upheaval, an album drenched in blasts, swirling riffs, groove, and those classic guitar moments that you want to immediately rewind. However, while describing the record makes it sound like there are a million ideas per minute (there certainly is a lot going on), what makes this record work where lesser bands fail is that Depravity know how to write a catchy death metal song. Moments like the repetition in the title track, the gleeful refrain in “Insanity Reality”, and the mix of grand and gruesome on the album’s opener all highlight that the band are students of the sound, and Evil Upheaval is their thesis statement.
By embracing the attributes that made their favorite bands so important and memorable, Depravity has harnessed the feel of the greats into a record that aims to embrace the fun factor at all costs. Sure, not every song is a slam dunk (the middle of the record feels ever-so-slightly less impactful than the bookends), but the overwhelming impression from such a wickedly fun opening argument is that Depravity have released one killer first statement.