The mutated sewer monsters have risen, this time in the form of a group called Pestilent Death. These gross death metal bands are popping up everywhere as of late, and I love it. This can probably be attributed to the fact that our nation’s defense system, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, have been obstructing their bowels with excessive amounts of grease-covered pizza and can no longer fend off the beasts below. Come on, eat some vegetables, man.
From Portland’s Torture Rack, to Denmark’s Undergang, gross and filthy death metal has never been more prominent. Served on the chopping block today is Chapters of Depravity by Pestilent Death, a group of freaks from Los Angeles, California. They’ve been around since the dawn of the 2010s and have a handful of EPs as well as a debut full length, 2016’s Eulogies of Putrefaction.
Chapters of Depravity comes from everyone’s favourite underground metal label, Rotted Life Records. We’ve seen the label grow over the course of the past six months, starting up with smaller cassette releases, and now already hosting older bands to the likes of Pestilent Death. Death metal seems to be the Maryland-based label’s forte, and in similar fashion to the subgenre’s relentless brutality, Rotted Life don’t seem to be stopping for anyone. We’ve enjoyed a lot of their output as of recent, with highlights being Boethiah’s Celestial Gateway EP, as well as Gosudar’s newest demo. Let’s see how Chapters of Depravity fares against this decaying competition.
Naturally, due to the nature of this rotten, infested, sewer-dwelling variety of death metal, the music here is very stereotypical and whatever I attempt to muster in terms of description, has been done by other writers for the past thirty years. We all know what Chapters of Depravity was going to sound like when we saw the album cover, the album name, and heck, even the band name. If you’re out of the loop, listen here then:
Luckily for us, Pestilent Death have incorporated a fair slew of grind-like elements to their custom flavour of decapitated-screaming-head music. These grindcore tendencies, ranging from differing vocal styles, rumbling percussion sections, and the presence of songs with little to no direction, assist in keeping this decayed piece of music fresh; similar to a box freezer’s preserving effect on a dead body. My apologies, I watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre last night and my mind is really in the zone here.
Oh! Speaking of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, “Upheaval of the Undead” and “Exhumation of Fermented Graves,” the album’s pair of concluding tracks, both incorporate gut-wrenching audio samples. The former includes the voice of a radio announcer discussing news about dead bodies coming back to life and eating the living, which reminded me a lot of the police officer’s voiceover at the top of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This definitely isn’t a coincidence.
As stated prior, while tagging Chapters of Depravity as a death/grind album would certainly be a misnomer, the tinge of grindcore introduced here is a really nice touch. The death metal influence is also a key factor to this release’s success as well, of course.
I feel like the album, and Pestilent Death in general, suffer from a tad bit of thematic stagnancy. The group’s publications definitely suffer from the “adjective/verb – noun” syndrome, as most of the tracks here, including the group’s name, rely on this formula, which gets old quick. “Torturous Incantations,” “Pulsating Entrails,” “Upheaval of the Undead,” the list goes on… While I wholeheartedly understand what the band is going for, its just overdone. At the very least, attempt to include some hint of originality into the track titles, adding flair while still keeping the music’s sewer-dwelling attitude.
Also, on that note, there’s really nothing all that new here. Now, with that being said, its music, and purposefully derivative music at that, so it wouldn’t be fair for me to compare it this to contemporary innovative works. You just have to know what sound you’re going for as a listener, and subsequently what sound Pestilent Death is offering.
Ultimately, Chapters of Depravity is different enough from similar works that it won’t fall between the cracks of towering genre-defining albums, which is a good thing. The album is simply of pretty great quality.