Released: 2017, The Artisan Era
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
2017 has already proven itself to be a pretty generous year for quality death metal, but there’s been a conspicuous absence any real hyper-technical, blow your mind kind of records. I’d speculate that it’s because the phalanxes required to run all of those scales take longer to thaw from the bitter cold of winter, but I’m still working on my dissertation to prove that.
But alas, springtime is upon us, and so is the first worthy tech-death album of the season - Virulent Depravity’s FRUIT OF THE POISONED TREE. Featuring 10 tracks of non-stop, pants crapping virtuosity, it’s the equivalent of Obscura freebasing Necrophagist records.
There aren’t many real “riffs” in the traditional sense to be found across FRUIT OF THE POISONED TREE; each tune is comprised of a seemingly endless thread of spider webbed notes, blast beats, and cataclysmic musical collisions. It’s almost like Virulent Depravity intentionally set out to create an album more complicated than Ninja Gaiden Black, drawing a line in the sand and shutting down any potential haters with total sensory assault. As obviously skillful as the Nashville trio is, this approach lends itself as both an asset and a liability. When the band reigns in some of the musical spasms and tightens the delivery just a smidge, tunes like “Your Demise”, “Bad Drug” and “Beyond the Point of No Return” resonate significantly more so than the alternative. But being force fed 12 minutes of back to back competing arpeggio scales at over 200 bpm, one tends to become numb to the shred emanating from your speakers.
FRUIT OF THE POISONED TREE may not be as compact or accessible a record as some genre faithful might be accustomed to, but it’s still an impressive display of technical prowess deployed at a manic pace. And as the first legit tech-death volley of the season, we should all be okay with that.