Vacuous Depths – Corporal Humiliation Review

You there! That’s right, you. Stop dwelling on Cthulhu or Satan or the uncaring expanse of deep space for a minute; it’s time for a thought exercise. Think of the worst thing you’ve ever done. No, really–the thing you don’t tell anyone about, the one that makes you stop whatever you’re doing and wince whenever it jumps unbidden into your mind. Got it? Well, guess what: Vacuous Depths know your secret, and they are here to beat you down for what you did. Here are ten tracks of primal, punishing death metal that are very much aware we all have it coming. There is no escaping the judgment of this Tampa trio, who need look no further than the world around them to find horrors sufficient to fuel their venomous anger. Corporal Humiliation is a debut of singular savagery, a thirty-four-minute beatdown that you know goddamn well you deserve.

Justice will be administered via blunt force riffage. This is more “birth-of-the-genre” primitivism than it is “old school death metal.” Vacuous Depths take inspiration from Florida death metal stalwarts like Covenant-era Morbid Angel or Death circa Leprosy, but the band also boasts sonic ties to seminal outfits from Mexico and South America. You’ll taste Cenotaph, Mortuary, and early Sepultura in the stew regurgitated by frontman Austin Thomas and bandmates. Thomas’s guitar riffs over a frenetic rhythm section, all while he spits out tales of real-world horror with a dynamic vocal performance that mostly sits somewhere between a death growl and a hardcore bark. The songs blast by in a constant whirl of Tasmanian Devil energy. There may not be a particular standout number, but everything flows together and the production gives all three musicians the space to shine. Vacuous Depths elbow their way into the pit with a genuinely nasty first effort, an impressive platter that drags you across concrete and leaves you baking on the asphalt.

Corporal Humiliation mines the dark side of Florida’s history for material. The title track focuses on abuse and murder at the infamous Florida School for Boys, while lead single “Exteriorization” unfolds from the perspective of a serial killer who stalked Tampa in 2017. It’s an effective choice of subject matter, giving the album an edge of authenticity and danger that you won’t get from another go-round with Baphomet or the Elder Gods. Vacuous Depths sounds nothing like the great Fvneral Fvkk, but their focus on real-life topics lends the music a hint of the texture that made Carnal Confessions so powerful.

Austin Thomas’s bruising but charismatic performances on both mic and guitar do a lot to put Corporal Humiliation over the top. He keeps things simple on guitar, unleashing a relentless array of death metal riffs that are never once sullied by the appearance of a lead guitar line. His bag of tricks as a vocalist is more varied. Opener “Gold Crosses” finds Thomas dropping peals of unsettling laughter, while “Exteriorization” is punctuated by sinister sighs and a kind of growling spoken-word section. The voKILLS and overall pace help cover for a lack of variety in the songwriting–Corporal Humiliation is anything but boring, but Thomas and company may need to expand their palette on future releases.

Do Vacuous Depths know that their name is an oxymoron? There’s a buttload of intelligence on display amid the brutality of Corporal Humiliation, so I’m going with “yes.”1 The name is yet another reason to like this young outfit–although an album stuffed with songs like “Worshipper of Death” and a killer cover of Sepultura’s immortal “Troops of Doom” will have you on their side already. This is a feral beast of a debut, a simple but exhilarating ride that’s recommended to fans of the rough stuff and to masochists alike.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Blood Harvest Records | Chaos Records | Goat Throne Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: November 4, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. The buttload: the official measuring unit of intelligence.
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