Depravation – IV: Letvm Review

Here’s another rando plucked from the slimy depths of the promo sump. Depravation plays a unique blend of black metal that uses a hardcore-esque vocal approach and filthy, crusty death metal riffs. And, during my time exploring their back catalog, I’ve grown to love sophomore release II: Maledictvm. It’s a fantastic combination of chaos and subtlety—all shoved straight up your ass and out of your shit-stained mouth. The kind of delivery that sets you back in your seat, thinking, “Oh, so you can headbang to black metal.” But, when these mysterious Germans signed to Lifeforce Records, their follow-up album, III: Odor Mortis, didn’t grab me in the same way. It’s still a worthy piece of art, but their evolution removed some of that desperation found in II: Maledictvm. With IV: Letvm, that old feeling is back in a big way.

It’s clear from my time with Depravation’s discog that these chaps don’t settle for anything they did before. Each new album adds another layer to the pie, each song more intricate than the one before. But the best part of their music is the spontaneity and energy. On this new release, they hold nothing back and dive in headfirst. But this ain’t an ocean of water. It’s a vat of lava. A vat filled with the band’s traditional blackened death, but now with inclusions of thrash and utterly depressing passages. But, with a name like Depravation, would you expect anything different?

Unlike previous releases, IV: Letvm wastes no time beating the living hell out of you. “Nur einen Spalt” is a relentless delivery of tasty black metal riffage, overlapping core and black metal shrieks, and a mid-song, earth-shattering death charge. But the most ruthless pieces on the record are the back-to-back “Involuntary Violence” and “Im Schatten.” Made even more brutal because you can’t tell you’ve changed tracks—leaving you no chance to take a breath between. The first track strips away the black metal movements for meaty death hooks that never let up, and “Im Schatten” follows suit with a headbangable gallop and truly venomous shrieks throughout.

But it’s back-end numbers that I keep coming back to the most. “Certain Death” starts with classic, old-school black metal dissonance before transitioning into a serious death groove. After taking your neck for a test drive, it slows at the end, droning away into your brain. “Suffering,” on the other hand, is like something off Slaughter of the Soul. Not only does it have a killer thrash lick embedded in it, but it also gives off some major At the Gates vibes in combination with the vocals.

After all the devastation and mind-fucking brutality, “Sadness” closes it out perfectly. The closer is a gorgeous instrumental that takes you to a dark place when Twin Peaks’ Log Lady stops in for a visit. After listening to this new album for a week, I still prefer II: Maledictvm. That said, the desperation of that album is alive and well. The vocals are vicious as hell, the drum work is intricate and nifty, and the riffs hit. It’ll be hard to keep me away from II: Maledictvm, but these chaps did well to create a new album better than their last one.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Lifeforce Records
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: February 17th, 2023

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