Review Summary: Catchy, heavy, technical and pretty darn cliché.
Released a little less than three months ago, A Plea for Purging shot a video for their lead single 'Malevolence.' When I found the video, I was delighted; not just by the inherent technicality of the band or even the toe-tapping catchiness that the song presented but by the huge amount of self-awareness that A Plea for Purging demonstrated in the video. Complete with tacky dancing, maracas and epic chase scenes, the video for Malevolence made the band seemingly chock full of a healthy sense of humor. It's something that's a pleasure to witness: a metalcore band that doesn't take itself painfully seriously. Taking this into accord, I had high hopes for the record.
Well, in more ways than one, Depravity
doesn't disappoint. From the opening riff of the introduction 'Descension' (a riff that is featured twice later in the album, giving a nice sense of continuity), to the memorable and dynamic 'Retribution,' A Plea for Purging demonstrate tasteful restraint and creative riffing straight from the get-go. From the Protest the Hero riff that opens up 'Malevolence' to the Between the Buried and Me noodling that dominates 'Prevaricator,' Depravity oozes shredtastic southern riffs, anthemic rhythms and even an incredibly delicious guitar solo in 'Motives.' Vocalist Andrew Atkins also manages to impress, giving a thick guttural scream that bellows deep (think August Burns Red), only to amp up to an Isis-like mid-scream, all while keeping his vocal patterns extremely rhythmic and un-robotic (which, in turn, makes for a lot of memorable and catchy moments). There are the positive elements of Depravity.
The fun stops here. The sense of self-awareness that was seemingly advertised in their Malevolence video (and their studio videos too, actually) is nowhere to be found on this record. One glance at the positively abysmal album artwork and repetitive song titles can guarantee that fact from an external level. Internally, Depravity
suffers from the gratuitous stigma that stains the metalcore genre: you guessed it, breakdowns. Luckily, the breakdowns that the band utilize are thinking-man's breakdowns; they churn randomly and cohesively, but unfortunately, when a breakdown occurs two or three times throughout the course of a song, it just gets irritating. The same goes for the laughably terrible lyrics, which do not help distract the listener form the chug-chugging. Allow me to sample you an excerpt from Devourer: "I can't stand the sight of your face, I can't stand the sound of your name any more, I will watch you die."
Did I mention that they're a Christian band? That'll confuse the kids.
The only other disconcerting feature of Depravity
, beyond the excruciating breakdowns, is something that hurts just about every band out there: repetition. Drummer Aaron Eckermann is truly a mixed bag; he contributes powerful blastbeats and nimble fills but seems to live in a land void of creativity -- a land that also seems to have undergone a cymbal famine (the poor guy desperately needs to be shown that there are more cymbals on his drumset than the crash). Bassist John Wand also unfortunately contributes nothing more than an inspiring beard. Repetition is painfully over-exemplified vocally, with Atkins rarely stepping out of his growling monotony, which is a shame because his mid-range screams really do sound better.
So, how do all these positive and negative aspects add up? Well, on one hand, A Plea for Purging has buckets more talent than any of their other peers. On the other hand, they fail to use this talent to their full potential in every facet of their songwriting. The combination of these two mismatched factors results in an album that manages to narrowly escape mediocrity -- Depravity
is a fun listen and contains some extremely solid songs, yet it never really breaks from the mundane clichés that plague it's running time.