Glorious Depravity – Ageless Violence Review

Ageless Violence is a death metal album. You know the deal. Glorious Depravity is the band. There are a bunch of guys in it, cool guys, some of whom are in some other good-to-killer bands that don’t play this style. It’s 2020, they’re doing old school death metal like everybody else because it’s fun. Nothing wrong with that. Plus, they’re quite good at it, and Ageless Violence is an undeniably tight, well-made record. However I would not recommend it.

It’s tough to explain. You’ve heard of Pyrrhon – at least you have if I’ve done my job here – and therefore know that a band with Doug Moore on the mic is a lucky one indeed. If you’re into black metal, you probably also know Woe, the main outlet for multi-instrumentalist Chris Grigg. His percussive talents are in full force here beneath the string-slinging trio of George Paul, Matt Mewton, and John McKinney. With Glorious Depravity, the five-piece have their chance to play Morbid Angel. They have it down to a science.

Every song on Ageless Violence hits that Morbid mark. From the rattling riffs of “Ocean of Scabs” to the stitched-up grooves of “Forced to Witness,” Glorious Depravity never miss a blast beat, skimp on sickness, or avoid offering at the altar. Paul & Mewton churn out sharp Azagthoth riffs and wild atonal solos of the same inspiration, Grigg hammers out white-knuckle fills between a dozen variants on the blast beat, and McKinney cuts through the low-and mid-frequencies like a cleaver through your fingernail. Nothing you haven’t heard before, but if that were an issue you should have already stopped reading this review. It should be no surprise that Moore steals the show, though. Whether croaking on the subject of Silicon Valley Draculas in “Oligarchic Exsanguinator,” retching about drone warfare in “Digital Reaper,” or grimly eulogizing commodified body parts in “Hospital Incinerator Blues,” his lyrics never fail to impress or disgust, and he sounds more powerful with this dry production than he has on any of his past projects.

But I don’t care for it as much as I should. Ageless Violence just seems a bit too… easy. I’ll admit that I’ve never been particularly enamored with Morbid Angel, but I get why Altars etc. get so much love. When Morbid Angel recorded their classic records, they sounded like unwilling participants in the musical process. The songs were weirdly put together the sound was fresh. But moreover, the band were playing on the edge of their physical abilities and you can tell; the instruments sometimes just outpace each other and there are these weird turnarounds and tempo shifts that seem to only exist because the band members are about to lose grip on their instruments. Glorious Depravity pay plenty of homage to the old style but are too good at what they’re doing to produce those little details. They make old school death metal look easy and, frankly, it’s a bit of a bummer. As a musician in high school, I was first drawn to death metal by the virtuosity of bands like Nile, Psycroptic, and Spawn of Possession. It didn’t take long for me to develop an appreciation for the music well beyond the performances, but the idea that death metal was about pushing boundaries – whether making sound nobody’s ever heard before, honing your songwriting, or even just getting a lick right that’s been giving you hell – sticks with me. And I just can’t see an angle from which Ageless Violence is challenging anybody.

Ageless Violence sounds like what it is; a fun, tertiary creative outlet for music that wouldn’t fit into the band members’ established projects. Their combined talent is clear; Glorious Depravity have no trouble cranking out old-school death metal – in fact that’s the issue. I know they’re not trying to show off, but pretty early in Ageless Violence they start to feel like a cover band with dates in the audience. Nobody is trying anything new and they are too good at rehashing source material to recapture that original sloppy charm. Maybe I’m overthinking it; diehard Morbid Angel fans are sure to latch on to a group that sounds like their favorite but doesn’t fuck around. But if you take fucking around out of death metal, what’s the point?

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps
Label: Translation Loss Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: November 27th, 2020

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