Anthropophagus Depravity – Apocalypto Review

It’s been an educational year. I’ve learned much about the brutal arts and begun to appreciate the stuff that would have been out of my wheelhouse otherwise. From slam to disso-death, I still struggle periodically with the likes of Swedeath and OSDM, due to their adherence to a distinct tone and style, but I can appreciate them nonetheless. I’m still foggy on the differences between brutal death and slam, as they often utilize similar aesthetics and the emphasis on density and bone-crushing heaviness is shared. Does the sesquipedalian Anthropophagus Depravity offer the goods?

Anthropophagus Depravity is a brutal death metal quintet from Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and 2021’s Apocalypto is their debut. While undoubtedly committed to bludgeoning listeners over the head with gore-splattered riffs, tar-thick grooves, and hell-scraping gutturals, Apocalypto is also dedicated to Mayan civilization and its emphasis of human sacrifice. As such, tracks “Hymn to the Apocalypto,” “The Mayan Disaster,” and “Ruthless Nation Perished” offer horror-themed samples complete with ritualistic drums, horns, sickening shrieks of pain, and squelching gore that set the tone. Anthropophagus Depravity is by no means unique, but Apocalypto rounds out its mind-numbing attack with just enough groove and supernatural menace to justify your heart being ripped from your torso for a listen or two.

One of my issues with brutal death metal has often been the audio samples of body horror: they’re intended to shock and set the tone, but serve little other purpose. While Anthropophagus Depravity combines these samples with uniquely Mesoamerican flavors, they remain a wincing element in the album. Otherwise, Apocalypto offers Devourment– and Cannibal Corpse-inspired brutality that largely either works or not depending on the listener’s tastes. For instance, “Forecasting Ruination” features a back half that steadily descends in depth and tempo, its thick grooves slowing and vocals deepening to a menacing gurgle – all traits that are encouraged in slam and brutal death but perhaps frowned upon in others. Tracks like “Escape from the Dead Lands” and “Ruthless Nation Perished” are absolute blasters, relying on frantic blastbeats and chuggy rhythms that keep the riffs from stagnating, while “Temple of Sacrifice” and “Immolation for the Sacred God” are aptly ominous cuts that offer ominous plucking between plodding grooves to provide a nearly otherworldly flavor that reflects the Mayan theme.

The promo sheet described Indonesia as a “festering sore” in the death metal scene, and Anthropophagus Depravity encapsulates this sound to a T. Thick, meaty riffs are paired with a nearly slimy production, while vocals are drenched with a dense shroud of distortion. Other than the horror samples, there’s little that breaches the realm of clarity in Apocalypto, aptly reflecting the humid jungles and gory spray of its source material. There is very little that rises into the treble clef, aside from the closing solo of “Mantra Solar Eclipse” (the only solo on the album) and perhaps scattered pinch harmonics. While much slam or brutal death relies on technical leads or shifting rhythms to keep it from sinking into the muck of despondency, Anthropophagus Depravity remains too comfortable in bludgeoning territory, offering dueling grooves and slams but little else. The tracks focusing on the dread-inducing menace are clear highlights, while others frankly fall into derivative territory and toe the line between brutal and boring regularly. To be frank, Apocalypto does not do anything that enhances nor detracts from the brutal death scene at large, other than cementing Indonesia’s fetid place in it.

Every now and then, your brain just needs a good beatdown. Anthropophagus Depravity with satisfy mightily with enough meaty riffs to satisfy a neighborhood barbecue. While the likes of Devourment, early Cryptopsy, and Cannibal Corpse are offered through the supernatural haze of Nile and Immolation, Apocalypto offers little else that is distinctly theirs aside from regional putridity. I enjoyed not having to think about this aural assault, but I found myself comparing it to myriad other brutal death acts and put off by the body horror. In the end Apocalypto lacks much of the technicality and songwriting chops to stand among its pedigree, but if it’s that tar-thick skull-crusher you’re after, look no further.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 319 kbps mp3
Label: Comatose Music
Releases Worldwide: July 2nd, 2021

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