Fruit of the Poisoned Tree
(The Artisan Era Records)
If, like me, you think Spawn of Possession’s Incurso is a tech death classic, hoo boy do I have a record you need to hear. Virulent Depravity, the project from multi-instrumentalist Colin Butler, and their debut record hits that sweet spot between mind-boggling technicality and something more melodic and progressive. The guitar work (which is shared between Butler and Malcolm Pugh) is immaculate, consistently twisting and morphing into new progressions and impressive rates, without feeling masturbatory. That’s what often separates talented tech death musicians from great tech death bands: the ability to focus enough to write a damn song.
That’s not an issue for Butler and company, as these ten songs are pretty darn impeccable, save for some excess in a few tunes on the latter half of the album (notably the two 7-plus minute songs). Virulent Depravity don’t really have their own voice (think Spawn of Possession with bits of Archspire and Necrophagist), but the material throughout Fruit of the Poisoned Tree is full of masterful execution and seriously dazzling musicianship. Butler understands how to keep songs in constant motion without ever sacrificing the song’s impact. Virulent Depravity is not perfect and not exactly unique, but when something is executed this well, you just have to stand and applaud. Those looking for the next great tech death band need to get some Virulent Depravity in their lives.