Album Review – Virulent Depravity / Fruit of the Poisoned Tree (2017)

Technical Death Metal cannot get more intense, complex and devastating than what Tennessee-based guitarist, bassist and vocalist Colin Butler and his henchmen have to offer in their debut full-length album.

If you’re an admirer of the most technical form of Death Metal, you’ll be excited to know that Virulent Depravity, the brainchild of Nashville, Tennessee-based guitarist, bassist and vocalist Colin Butler, have just released their debut full-length album, a lesson in dexterity and devastation named Fruit of the Poisoned Tree, and that the final result goes beyond the boundaries of awesomeness. Featuring a classic artwork by American designer Justin Abraham (Apotheosys, A Loathing Requiem, Engulfed in Blackness), the album will appeal to fans of Spawn Of Possession, First Fragment, Archspire, Origin, Necrophagist, Deeds of Flesh, Decrepit Birth and tons of other Death Metal acts who unite the words “finesse” and “ravage” in the most electrifying and precise way imaginable.

Formed In 2015, Virulent Depravity might be a new name to many in the world of Death Metal, but its band members are far from being rookies in the fields of extreme music. The impressive musical abilities by Colin attracted the attention of well-known guitarist Malcolm Pugh (Inferi, A Loathing Requiem), who joined the band in 2016 on rhythm guitar and additional solos. Furthermore, the line-up is rounded out by Svart Crown drummer Kévin Paradis, whose incredible playing is the perfect foil to Colin and Malcolm’s dazzling performances, resulting in additional layers of complexity, speed and energy added to the already flammable music by Virulent Depravity, as you’ll be able to thoroughly enjoy in Fruit of the Poisoned Tree due to the album’s fantastic mixing and production.

Colin and Malcolm begin their technical shredding attack in the brutish but still very harmonious Serpentine Messiah, a perfect sample of modern Technical Death Metal where the beastly Kévin provides intricate beats and fills that complement all guitar and bass lines flawlessly, not to mention the sick guitar solo by guest musician Mark Hawkins. After such amazing start, how about a modernized and more metallic version of Cannibal Corpse, titled Spineless Obedience, a demolishing anthem tailored for slamming into the pit? The violent and fast growls by Colin effectively follow the song’s frantic riffs and beats, and once again it’s impressive how demented Kévin sounds with his beats. And their insanity in the form of extreme music goes on with another belligerent creation named Your Demise, where Colin and his bandmates deliver a precise fusion of fury and complexity, sounding more demonic than ever.

Blasting sheer violence through their riffs and solos, Colin and Malcolm have an outstanding performance in Desecrating Eden, while Kévin continues his maniacal onrush behind his drums (not to mention the song’s beyond technical ending), followed by the title-track Fruit of the Poisoned Tree, which not only maintains the intricacy at an absurdly high level, but it brings even more aggressiveness due to the amazing job done by Colin with his deranged gnarls and Kévin with his sick drumming. Put differently, no one can survive such apocalyptic tornado of Technical Death Metal. And guess what? In the next tune, named Bad Drug, they don’t waste a single second with intros or other shenanigans, firing pure Death Metal played to perfection, with its visceral lyrics complementing the song’s already vile musicality (“You’re so sick / You’re infecting the weak / You’re making excuses for all your mistakes / You waste of skin / You remind us all / No matter how high we become / We crash to the ground / You’ve had the devil inside you / You’ve been carrying scars for most of your life / Until finally you found a way to push it down”), also featuring an awesome guitar solo by guest musician Nick Padovani.

Colin definitely knows how to canalize all his hatred and wrath into his unstoppable growling as we can witness in Beyond the Point of No Return, an uproarious chant with progressive elements added to its musicality, in special to its extremely elaborate bass lines and vicious drumming. Then we have Only Human, where we face a calmer intro not seen in any of the previous songs. Although it takes a while for the music to take off, it fairly succeeds in keeping the album at a high level of violence; however, it doesn’t sound as exciting as all previous songs, even with its interesting progressive break and the great guitar oslo by guest musician Craig Peters. Back to a more demonic and rabid mode, Colin once again leads his horde growling like a beast in Mechanized Defilement, while Kévin adds so much intricacy to the musicality with his beats and fills it’s hard to explain in words. The song also features another kick-ass solo by another guest guitarist, this time Elijah Whitehead, resulting in a song that is excellent for some sick headbanging, slamming into the pit or simply enjoying its complex lines. Lastly, in Crushed by Futuristic Filth, we’re treated to a short atmospheric intro before all hell breaks loose in a majestic display of extreme music featuring absolutely mighty lyrics (“Sitting atop my throne of flesh and bone / My power is absolute / My subjects are waiting idly / Their silence is deafening / Embalmed in trash and kerosene / At once triumphant and disgusting”), obscure Latin chants by guest vocalist Nathan “Sounds” Bounds, a soulful guitar solo by guest musician Sims Cashion, a moody Jazz-ish break thanks to the keys by Jimmy Pitts, and a wonderful climatic ending on the piano also provided by Jimmy.

Why don’t you go to YouTube and take a very good listen at Fruit of the Poisoned Tree in its entirety? I’m sure you’ll get stunned by the precision with which Colin, Malcolm and Kévin blend melodious lines with total chaos. Then simply go to Facebook to start following such amazing band, and purchase the album at their BandCamp page, at The Artisan Era Records’ BandCamp or webstore (where you can choose between the regular CD or the special CD + T-shirt combo), on iTunes or on Amazon. Trust me, Technical Death Metal cannot get more complete and intense than this.

Best moments of the album: Serpentine Messiah, Fruit of the Poisoned Tree and Crushed by Futuristic Filth.

Worst moments of the album: Only Human.

Released in 2017 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing   
1. Serpentine Messiah 4:38
2. Spineless Obedience 4:01
3. Your Demise 4:02
4. Desecrating Eden 6:13
5. Fruit of the Poisoned Tree 4:01
6. Bad Drug 3:42
7. Beyond the Point of No Return 3:33
8. Only Human 7:48
9. Mechanized Defilement 6:05
10. Crushed by Futuristic Filth 7:41

Band members
Colin Butler – vocals, guitar, bass
Malcolm Pugh – lead & rhythm guitar
Kévin Paradis – drums

Guest musicians
Jimmy Pitts – keyboards on “Desecrating Eden” and “Crushed by Futuristic Filth”
Mark Hawkins – guitar solo on “Serpentine Messiah”
Nick Padovani – guitar solo on “Bad Drug”
Craig Peters – guitar solo on “Only Human”
Elijah Whitehead – guitar solo on “Mechanized Defilement”
Sims Cashion – guitar solo on “Crushed by Futuristic Filth”
Nathan “Sounds” Bounds – guest vocals and Latin chants on “Crushed by Futuristic Filth”

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